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American Connections

Grades 4 through 12

We will offer a selection of in-person and virtual field trips (using Zoom) for winter/spring 2024.

Requests for winter/spring field trips (January 8 – May 31, 2024) will be accepted from December 1, 2023 – April 5, 2024.

Works of art are primary sources that can illuminate American history and culture. On this field trip, students will look carefully and explore landscapes, portraits, and scenes of everyday life. They will actively engage with works of art through discussion, creative writing, and sketching. This field trip can be tailored to connect with different periods in American history.

Sheer, vertical, cliffs, brightly lit in cream white and rust orange by the low sun, tower over a band of people riding horses into the distance in this long, horizontal landscape painting. The glowing cliffs dominate the upper right quadrant of the painting. They lighten from burnt orange along the jagged tops to flame orange down the steep sides, and are and warm, parchment white near the earth. One tall, narrow promontory to our right looms over a range of lower, rounded cliffs. As the cliffs move into the distance, they are shrouded with a lavender-purple haze. The land closest to us dips into a shallow valley at the bottom center of the composition, leading away from us. The dirt-packed earth is dotted with pine-green, scrubby bushes and vegetation and a grove of low, gnarled trees a short distance to our right. One chestnut-brown horse walks along the path at the bottom center of the composition, lagging behind a cluster of at least two dozen horses and riders winding into the distance. The horses range from ivory white to tawny brown and charcoal gray. The riders are loosely painted so some details are indistinct, but they all seem to have brown skin and dark hair. They wear feathered headdresses and garments in teal blue, fawn brown, or golden yellow. They ride over a low hill toward a crystal-blue river, and then back along a flat expanse toward a row of miniscule, triangular tepees lining the horizon in the deep distance. The horizon comes halfway up the composition, and the tepees are backed by a row of rose-pink, flat-topped cliffs. A pale yellow disk hangs low in the sky, over the distant cliffs. The sky above deepens from soft, lilac purple along the horizon to ice and sapphire blue along the top. A few wispy clouds are burnished orange in the sunlight. The artist signed and dated the painting in the lower right corner, “TYMoran 1881,” with the T, Y, and M overlapping to make a monogram.

Thomas Moran, Green River Cliffs, Wyoming, 1881, oil on canvas, Gift of the Milligan and Thomson Families, 2011.2.1

Looking and Learning Skills

Students will practice these looking and learning skills:

  • Making and articulating careful observations.
  • Formulating questions that demonstrate curiosity and engagement.
  • Comparing and connecting different works of art.
  • Connecting new ideas learned on this field trip to prior knowledge about American history and culture.
  • Interpreting works of art as primary sources about American art and society.

In-Person Field Trip Information

Group Size: Up to 60 students
Length: 90 minutes
Meeting Location: West Building Rotunda

Virtual Field Trip Information

Length: 60 minutes

Important Scheduling Information

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

Once your field trip has been scheduled, you will receive an email confirmation within ten business days.

Title I Bus Stipends

Funding for the cost of bus transportation is available for Title I schools that participate in our docent-led school field trips. For more information, please get in touch with Deirdre Palmer at [email protected] or (202) 842-6880, or use the application form.

Examples of Works Featured on this Field Trip

Additional National Gallery Resources

Related Resources