Art Museum Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.


– Vincent Van Gogh created over 2,000 works during his lifetime. However, he was only ever able to sell one of his paintings while he was alive.

– Leonardo Da Vinci was left-handed. He took notes from right-to-left instead of the English language standard left-to-right.

– Pablo Picasso was arrested and questioned regarding the theft of Mona Lisa in 1911. He was released without being charged.

– In late 1961, Henri Matisse’s painting “Le Bateau” was hung upside down at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 46 days before anyone noticed.


An art museum or art gallery is a building or space for the exhibition of art, usually visual art forms, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, filmmaking, and architecture. Paintings are the most commonly displayed art objects in art museums, galleries, and exhibits; however, sculptures, decorative arts, furniture, textiles, costumes, drawings, pastels, watercolors, collages, prints, artist’s books, photographs, and installation art are also regularly shown.

Major art periods:

  • Renaissance: 1300-1602
  • Romanticism: 1790-1880
  • Modern: 1860-1960
  • Contemporary: 1960-

Have a general discussion with your students regarding the type of art museums, type of exhibit, and what period of art and artists they will be viewing. Most museums offer educational materials to help prepare your students for the visit. Many are online and you can download teacher and student material to enhance lesson plans before and after your field trip.


Learn about art periods and the culture and history of that period

Learn about artists and their work

Learn about art museums and the staff that work there


Portrait – a picture of a person

Landscape – a picture of the land

Sculpture – a statue

Still-Life – a picture of fruit, vegetable, flowers on a table

Collage – a picture made of many pieces

Abstract – a piece of art that you use your imagination to create

Impressionism – a style of painting that began in France around 1870, that uses spots of color to show the effects of different kinds of light, and that attempts to capture the feeling of a scene rather than specific details

Photograph – a picture taken with a camera

Mural – a very big picture

Ceramics – Vases, pots, and bowls made out of dirt

Sketch – a picture made with a pencil

Watercolor Painting – a picture made with a light-weight water paint

Oil Painting – a picture made with oil paint that is brighter and darker than watercolor paint

Masterpiece – a great book, painting, a piece of music, movie, etc.

Exhibit – an object or a collection of objects that have been put out in a public space for people to look at: something shown in an exhibition

Collection – a group of interesting or beautiful objects brought together in order to show or study them

Gallery – a room or building in which people look at paintings, sculptures, etc.


–  Analytic

– Hands-on art activities

– Observation

– Vocabulary development

– Writing


  • Create your own classroom museum with changing exhibits of students work.
  • Review various art periods. Have students pick their favorite artist from that period and write a report on them.
  • Discuss what staff comprises a museum:

– Administrative Staff
– Curator
– Development Director
– Education Director
– Executive Director
– Finance Director
– Guards
– Marketing and Communication
– Custodial
– Publications
– Café Operations
– Docents