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Summer Teacher Institute

Thank you for your interest. Please check back at the beginning of January for the 2018 application.

The Teacher Institute is a six-day seminar that helps K–12 teachers (of all subjects) strengthen their knowledge of art history and integrate visual art into classroom teaching. The program features lectures, gallery tours, teaching strategies, and hands-on learning experiences.

About the 2017 Institute

This seminar examines visual art of the Renaissance as it found expression in the independent city-states of Italy and the Low Countries from the 14th through the 16th century. The term Renaissance, meaning “rebirth,” refers to the humanistic revival of classical culture and learning with its underlying belief in the creative potential of humankind. As scholars and theologians worked to reconcile their new knowledge of antiquity with the teachings of Christianity, the educated and affluent would begin to see earthly life as an arena for individual fulfillment, not just preparation for religious salvation. An awakening sense of individual artistic identity superseded that of the guild craftsman and led visual artists to begin signing their work. Writers also began to celebrate their own accomplishments through newly invented literary forms of memoir and autobiography.

Renaissance values spread across Europe, catalyzing the transition from medieval to modern times. While the church would remain the wealthiest and most prominent patron of the arts, rising fortunes among aristocratic and merchant classes created a demand for secular and utilitarian art forms. Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance art, grew wealthy, transforming families like the Medici and the Farnese into political dynasties that expressed their power through visual symbols and cultural patronage. Venice, as a major trading port between East and West, introduced Europeans to luxury goods such as textiles, ceramics, enamels, and decorative arts from Asia and the Islamic world that had a marked influence on Italian art. Throughout Europe, portraiture would emerge as an important vehicle for expressing economic power and social ambition, while commissions for public sculpture and architecture provided even more visible and enduring evidence of a patron’s prestige.

The influence of the Renaissance on visual art gradually spread to Northern Europe by the 16th century, including to the Netherlands, Germany, and France, as artists (and works of art) traveled, carrying new ideas and approaches to art. The Northern Renaissance assumed a distinctive character reflecting the religious, economic, and cultural conditions there.

Participants in the Summer Teacher Institute will study works by leading Renaissance artists as represented in the Gallery’s permanent collection, including the painters Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Jan van Eyck, and Rogier van der Weyden. The development of oil-painting techniques and their impact on artists seeking naturalistic visual effects will be highlighted. The role of prints in disseminating new ideas and in making an artist’s work accessible to the middle class will be considered in the Gallery’s Print Study Room, where teachers will examine woodblock prints and engravings by masters such as Albrecht Dürer.

This seminar highlights the social and cultural context of Renaissance art and demonstrates interdisciplinary teaching strategies. Activities are designed to meet teachers' personal and professional enrichment needs.

By offering an opportunity to explore paintings and objects in the National Gallery and other collections, the Institute aims to:

  • Provide an introduction to Italian and Northern Renaissance art and social history from the 1300s through the 1500s;
  • Examine and compare artistic techniques and subjects as influenced by Renaissance ideals in both Italy and the Netherlands;
  • Foster an understanding of painting as an artistic creation and of period techniques of fabrication;
  • Encourage the use of works of art as primary sources in classroom instruction;
  • Share models for incorporating art into interdisciplinary teaching and strengthen students' visual literacy.

Program Sessions
Two six-day sessions will be held at the Gallery. Each session will accommodate 25 participants. Applicants should indicate their session preference and keep both weeks open until registration is finalized.

Applicants should plan to attend the entire program, which takes place Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Activities may be scheduled off-site and in the evening hours.

Session 1: July 10–15, 2017
Session 2: July 24–July 29, 2017

Program Fees and Resources
The fee is $200 per person and covers the cost of instruction, books, and other program resources.

Selection Criteria
Participants will be selected through a rigorous application process. Selection will be based on an individual's or team's statement of purpose. Administrators (principals, supervisors, or curriculum specialists) will be given special consideration. To encourage national representation, efforts will be made to enroll candidates from each of the following five regions:

1.     Northwest and Alaska

2.     Southwest and Hawaii

3.     Midwest

4.     Northeast

5.     Southeast

Fellowship opportunities for teachers (K–12, all subjects) are listed below. All fellowships offer stipends of $2,000 and fee-waived enrollment. The stipend is intended to contribute to travel and program-related expenses. Applicants must meet the selection criteria for the program, identify the funding sources for which they wish to be considered, and briefly explain the classroom outcomes they anticipate. Selection of fellows will be based on merit rather than financial need. Consideration will focus on the individual's or the team's statement of purpose, the topic's connection to curriculum and/or students' needs, and anticipated teaching outcomes.

Educators of any discipline who are currently employed within a public, private, or parochial school system, K–12, are eligible for funding.

  • Annetta J. and Robert M. Coffelt Sr. and Robert M. Coffelt Jr. Endowed Fellowship: Open to all K–12 educators who teach in the United States or its territories
  • Sara Shallenberger Brown Fund: Open to all K–12 educators who teach in Kentucky

Successful fellowship candidates will be paid upon completion of the program and submission of a two-page report summarizing how they will apply their experience at the Institute to daily teaching or administrative work.

Transportation and Housing
Participants will be responsible for their own transportation and housing. A list of housing options will be provided upon admission, but participants should feel free to explore alternatives.

The 2017 Teacher Institute is supported by generous gifts from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Sara Shallenberger Brown Fund, the PaineWebber Endowment, and the Annetta J. and Robert M. Coffelt Sr. and Robert M. Coffelt Jr. Endowed Fellowship.

Application Process

Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2017 Teacher Institute. Thank you for your interest.

Educators may apply as individuals or as teams of two. Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose explaining why they would like to attend the Institute. The statement should include ways the applicant(s) will incorporate the subject matter in their classroom studies. Applicants will also submit a plan for how they intend to share the Institute experience with their students and colleagues upon completion of the program. Applicants applying as teams should reference one another by full name in their statement of purpose. Educators of students in grades K–12 and all subjects are eligible.

Participants will be notified of their acceptance in April 2017. If accepted, applicants will have until approximately April 30, 2017, to confirm their participation.

Questions about this program should be directed to [email protected]. When contacting the Gallery, please provide a telephone number and the times of day when you can best be reached.


The 2017 Teacher Institute is supported by generous gifts from the Park Foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Sara Shallenberger Brown Fund, the PaineWebber Endowment, and the Annetta J. and Robert M. Coffelt Sr. and Robert M. Coffelt Jr. Endowed Fellowship.


Questions about this program should be directed to [email protected]. When contacting the Gallery, please provide a telephone number and the times of day when you can best be reached.