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Education

Classroom Videoconferences

Artful Connections

A student from Lake Hills Elementary School, Elkhart, Indiana, collaborates with her classmates and a SAAM presenter during a videoconference.

Visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum without leaving your school! Explore U.S. history and culture through a free interactive videoconference. Museum presenters create connections between American art and your curriculum, engaging students and lifelong learners at schools, libraries, and senior centers throughout North America. Artful Connections programs promote collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication via discussion.


Our programs:

  • Highly interactive, inquiry driven, object-centered lessons
  • 10 different topics align with national curriculum standards and 21st Century Skills
  • Appropriate for 3rd grade through adult learners
  • Offered Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern on a flexible schedule
  • Sessions last from 45-60 minutes

To schedule a videoconference, please visit the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) website. Create a free profile on the CILC website before requesting any of our programs. For more information about Artful Connections videoconferences, please contact Rebecca Fulcher at FulcherR@si.edu or (202) 633-8537 or read our Frequently Asked Questions page (pdf).


Download our Tips for a Successful Videoconference (pdf) to make the most of your virtual tour.


Artful Connections Tours

Looking at Art Exploring History Celebrating Heritage
To See Is to Think Young America African American Artists
America's Signs & Symbols Lure of the West American Indians
Found Object Artworks A House Divided: Civil War Latino Art and Culture
Contemporary Craft Works

All videoconference topics meet the following Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, as well as for Speaking and Listening. Links to national content standards can be found with individual videoconference descriptions.

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Looking at Art

detail from Gene Davis' “Raspberry Icicle,” an artwork often used in the “To See Is to Think: Visual Literacy” interactive videoconference

To See Is to Think

Grades 3+

In a world filled with images, it is important to be visually literate. While exploring artworks that represent various time periods, styles, and mediums, students will: 1) build a visual vocabulary and learn how to form interpretations based on visual evidence and 2) build visual literacy by examining the deliberate choices artists make in their work and why.

Request To See Is to Think


To See Is to Think Overview (pdf)
To See Is to Think Lesson, Grades 3-5 (pdf)
To See Is to Think Lesson, Grades 6-8 (pdf)
To See Is to Think Lesson, Grades 9-12 (pdf)


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detail from Malcah Zeldis' “Miss Liberty Celebration,” an artwork often used in the “America's Signs and Symbols” interactive videoconference

America's Signs & Symbols

Grades 3+

Artists use familiar icons such as the Statue of Liberty, the bald eagle, and the American flag to communicate their ideas about American culture and encourage examination of our society.

Request America's Signs & Symbols


America's Signs & Symbols Overview (pdf)
America's Signs & Symbols Lesson, Grades 3-5 (pdf)
America's Signs & Symbols Lesson, Grades 6-8 (pdf)
America's Signs & Symbols Lesson, Grades 9-12 (pdf)


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photo of “Bottlecap Lion,” by an unidentified artist. The artwork is often used in the “Found Object Artworks” interactive videoconference.

Found Object Artworks

Grades 3+

From beads to bottlecaps, tinfoil to toys, artists have used many nontraditional materials to express themselves and create art. This videoconference covers how artists use everyday materials, vision and imagination, storytelling, and a sense of place.

Request Found Object Artworks


Found Object Artworks Overview (pdf)
Found Object Artworks Lesson, Grades 3-5 (pdf)
Found Object Artworks Lesson, Grades 6-8 (pdf)
Found Object Artworks Lesson, Grades 9-12 (pdf)


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Teapot by Judy Kepps

Contemporary Craft Works

Grades 3+

Craft artists push beyond traditions by testing the limits of materials and techniques. Whether using clay, metal, glass, or fiber, these artists create works that blur the lines between art and craft and encourage us to see everyday objects in new ways.

Request Contemporary Craft Works


Contemporary Craft Works Overview (pdf)
Contemporary Craft Works Lesson, Grades 3-5 (pdf)
Contemporary Craft Works Lesson, Grades 6-8 (pdf)
Contemporary Craft Works Lesson, Grades 9-12 (pdf)


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Exploring History

detail from Washington Resigning His Commission by Ferdinand Pettrich

Young America

Grades 4+

The transition from colonial rule to national independence was a pivotal time in American history. Students will explore colonial and early federal art that tells the story of growing national ambitions, territorial expansion, and the beginning of industry.

Request Young America


Young America Overview (pdf)
Young America Lesson, Grades 4-6 (pdf)
Young America Lesson, Grades 7-12 (pdf)


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detail from Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way,” an artwork often used in the “Lure of the West” interactive videconference

Lure of the West

Grades 4+

Part geography and part mythology, the American West retains a powerful allure in popular culture. Explore depictions of the people, lifestyles, and landscapes of the 19th century West to better understand this dynamic period of history.

Request Lure of the West


Lure of the West Overview (pdf)
Lure of the West Lesson, Grades 4-7 (pdf)
Lure of the West Lesson, Grades 8-12 (pdf)


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detail from Alonzo Chappel's “Lee Surrendering to Grant at Appomattox,” an artwork often used in the “Civil War: A House Divided” interactive videoconference

A House Divided: Civil War

Grades 5+

The Civil War tested and consumed the country for more than four years. Explore how this great conflict and subsequent Reconstruction period are depicted through the traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, as well as the then new medium of photography.

Request A House Divided: Civil War


A House Divided: Civil War Overview (pdf)
A House Divided: Civil War Lesson, Grades 5-6 (pdf)
A House Divided: Civil War Lesson, Grades 7-8 (pdf)
A House Divided: Civil War Lesson, Grades 9-12 (pdf)


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Celebrating Heritage


detail from Jacob Lawrence's “The Library,” an artwork often used in the “African American Artists” interactive videoconference

African American Artists

Grades 4+

The lives of African American artists lend insight into the context of their works. Learn about the diverse body of artwork created by African American artists and the historical, social, and cultural events, as well as the life experiences, that inspired their work

Request African American Artists


African American Artists Overview (pdf)
African American Artists Lesson, Grades 4-7 (pdf)
African American Artists Lesson, Grades 8-12 (pdf)


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Indian in the Snow by Fritz Scholder

American Indians

Grades 3+

American Indians are part of the past, present, and future of the United States. Explore histories and cultures of some American Indians as captured by both Native and non-Native artists. Discuss the influence of geography, tradition, and tribal affiliation on contemporary Indian artists.

Request American Indians


American Indians Overview (pdf)
American Indians Lesson, Grades 3-5 (pdf)
American Indians Lesson, Grades 6-8 (pdf)
American Indians Lesson, Grades 9-12 (pdf)


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detail from Angel Rodríguez-Díz' “The Protagonist of an Endless Story,” an artwork often used in the “Latino Art and Culture” interactive videoconference

Latino Art and Culture

Grades 4+

The concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge in the mid-20th century. Explore how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day, often using their work to communicate with a larger public about social justice and themes of diversity, identity, and community.

Request Latino Art and Culture


Latino Art and Culture Overview (pdf)
Latino Art and Culture Lesson, Grades 4-7 (pdf)
Latino Art and Culture Lesson, Grades 8-12 (pdf)


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Don't see what you need? Ask us about customized tours: AmericanArtEducation@si.edu.