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Art Connections

Grades 4 through 6

This tour supports learning about and through art with experiences that encourage critical and creative thinking, working collaboratively, and engaging with rich art content. Students will encounter landscapes, portraits, and genre paintings.

Looking and Learning Skills

During four tour stops in the galleries, students engage in activities—such as looking exercises and working in small groups—that foster conversations about works of art. The following connections are promoted:

  • Artistic: Students will make observations about the stylistic choices artists make, such as composition and color. This tour includes sketching or creative writing activities.
  • Personal: Students will make meaningful connections to works of art through careful looking and by developing their own ideas and interpretations.
  • Historical: Students will understand that art can be a primary source that reflects and highlights a historic period.

Examples of Works Featured on Tour

Logistical Information

Group Size: Up to 90 students
Length: 75 minutes
Meeting Location: West Building Rotunda

Pre-Visit and Post-Visit Activities

Expose your students to the art of looking carefully and sharing ideas about art. These pre- and post-visit activities are designed to model Art Connections tour elements.

Pre-Visit Activity
"Zoom In" on The Lone Tenement by George Bellows
Estimated time: 20 minutes

Before visiting the museum, students practice looking carefully at a work of art, generating questions, and building interpretations. The "Zoom In" routine uses open-ended questions and a conversational approach to encourage engagement and thinking about works of art.

Download presentation: PDF (2MB) or PPT (2MB)
Download teacher notes: PDF (67KB)

Post-Visit Activity
Looking at New York and The Lone Tenement by George Bellows
Estimated time: 30 minutes

Building on their museum experiences, students look carefully at a work of art and build a rich shared description and interpretation. They discover that writing about works of art is another way of entering, interpreting, and engaging with the painting in a meaningful and personal way.

Download presentation: PDF (1MB) or PPT (1MB)
Download teacher notes: PDF (25KB)

Additional Gallery Resources

Art in the Classroom Poster
The Railway by Edouard Manet

Download poster (PDF 522kb)

The poster offers information and activities to encourage looking at, thinking about, and interpreting art. It can be used flexibly and is suitable for small-group or whole-class work.

Art in the Classroom Poster
Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Download poster (PDF 685kb)

This poster offers information and activities to encourage students to consider the perspectives of the soldiers as they joined the Civil War through careful looking at art images and use of creative writing prompts. It explores the artistic challenges of creating a meaningful memorial and tasks students with conceptualizing their own memorials.

Learn more about how the poster links to Common Core State Standards (PDF 71KB).

Important Information

Requests for fall tours (September 26–December 9, 2016) will begin on August 15, 2016.

Tours must be scheduled at least four weeks in advance. Groups must contain at least 15 students.

Once your tour has been scheduled, you will receive a confirmation letter via mail in 10 business days (14 days for Spanish-language tours).

Pre-Visit Information

Watch a video (grades 1-4) or download a presentation (grades 4-12) (PPT, 4MB) to show your students what to expect on their tour. Please review museum policies, location, parking, accessibility, security, lunch options, and other important visitor information.


Our tour scheduler, Jennifer Cross, is available to answer questions Monday through Wednesday (September through May). Please contact her at (202) 842-6249 or

Also see our Frequently Asked Questions about School Tours.


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