Schools & Educators

GRAM educator home is now live!

GRAM educator home, a custom built online community created exclusively for educators.

GRAM educator home provides educators from all corners of the world immediately access to the resources of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Designed to be interactive and participatory, GRAM educator home is a 21st century online professional learning community.

Click on the image above to register.

GRAM Honored with MAEA Distinguished Service Award

In Fall 2013, Grand Rapids Art Museum was awarded the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA) Distinguished Service Award, honoring GRAM’s efforts to advance the importance of the visual arts in schools throughout the state, and serve as a resource for art educators and students. Find out more at

“The museum provides quality and relevant professional development opportunities for art educators, K–12, and its education department staff is eager to work with area districts and teachers.”
Susanne Butler Lich, Northview Public Schools

“GRAM has… [made] the museum inclusive for children and families, and [strengthened] their educational component… I applaud their efforts and sincerely appreciate the changes they have instituted.”
Dr. Cindy Todd, Kendall College of Art and Design

In 2014, GRAM plans to continue advancing teacher workshops, expanding school tours, growing the Language Artists school program, and more.

School Tours
GRAM offers docent-led tour experiences for youth and school groups that promote critical thinking and literacy skills while fostering an appreciation for works in the Art Museum’s collection. Through an emphasis on student centered learning and critical dialogue, GRAM tours enhance analytical skills vital to art studies, as well as all other areas of the school curriculum.

Tour themes include:

  • Art+History: social studies through the eyes of artists
    Connect paintings by Thomas Hart Benton, Richard Diebenkorn, and other artists in the art museum’s permanent collection to the U.S. and Michigan History curriculum. Consider themes such as the American landscape, social/political structures, and westward expansion on a tour that teaches students strategies for critical literacy.
  • Learning to Look: an introduction to the museum experience
    Analyze the formal qualities of art to gain a complete understanding of the art-making process. By identifying and discussing elements and principles such as composition, color, line, texture, scale, proportion, balance, contrast, and rhythm, students will unlock the choices artists make to tell their stories.
  • Green Features: exploring the relationship between nature, sustainability, and creativity
    Experience the green features of world’s first LEED Gold Certified art museum. A guided conversation takes you through an investigation of the building and works of art inside.


Self – Guided:
Lead the museum experience yourself by registering your students for a self-guided tour. Explore the museum’s collection and special exhibitions at your own pace while focusing on works directly related to your groups interest.

Studio Workshops
Activate the material covered on your tour by allowing your students to apply skills during hands on art making lessons. Studio workshops are inspired by the works of art seen on docent led tours. Students work with museum educators and learn methods for creating art in a variety of techniques and media.

Available workshops include:

  • Art + History
    Learn about visual narratives and atmospheric perspective through the creation of a multi-layered landscape incorporating “visual clues.”
  • Learning to Look
    Explore Ellsworth Kelly’s process for creating abstract reinterpretations by deconstructing images of the natural world.
  • Green Features
    Create a panoramic landscape and mixed media piece while learning about the properties of recyclable vs. non-recyclable materials, in the world’s first LEED Gold certified art museum.

Click here to plan an experience for you and students.

Tour + Workshop Times

Tours are available at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
An 11:00 a.m. workshop can be added to the 10:00 am tour.

Wednesday – Fridays:
Tours are available at 10:00 a.m. 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
An 11:00 a.m. workshop can be added to the 10:00 am tour.

Docent-guided tours are one hour in length. Self-guided tours need not be limited to one hour.
Tour requests must be received no later than 3 weeks in advance.

Educator Resources
Designed to enhance the tour experience, GRAM’s teacher resource packets are suitable for all educators (grades K-12) and instructors of home school groups. Prepare for your filed trip by reviewing the included vocabulary lists, artist biographies, and analysis of selected works that may be seen during tours. Included activity ideas can act as simple introductions to the museum experience or provide closure after the tour.

Educator Professional Development
Tough Talk

Art often deals with sensitive subjects.
Subjects that our students face each and every day.
Subjects which are commonly difficult to discuss for both student and teacher.

During this tour and workshop experience, participants will:

Learn how to safely and confidently discuss sensitive subjects and themes with students.

Engage with authentic works of art from GRAM’s collection and changing exhibitions.

Inspire themselves and colleagues to approach their teaching practice in new and innovative ways.

Themes discussed may include: sex, sexuality, identity, gender roles and stereotypes, death and loss, abuse, nudity, war and conflict, and many more.

By refocusing our attention from our personal experiences to works of art, we are able to create a safe environment, promoting open conversation about these challenging and confusing topics.

GRAM educator nights are a series of one-night mini-conferences. During which, participants have the opportunity to learn new instructional methods, tour the galleries after they close to the public, create in hands on workshops, and collaborate with colleagues.
Check back often to see when then next educator night is scheduled.

Best Practices in Education: Introduction to Design Thinking Created in collaboration with Design West Michigan

Explore galleries rich with examples of engaging, provocative, and innovative graphic design.

Collaborate with peers and a practicing graphic designer to investigate ways of using design thinking in the classroom.

Discover new ways to analyze works of art through the eyes of a designer.

Experiment and Prototype as you explore methods designers use to understand and engage their audience
while solving real world problems.

Reinvigorate age-old teaching practices with cutting-edge pedagogy and instructional frameworks.

For more information regarding professional development offerings or to create an experience all your own contact the School Programs Coordinator at [email protected] or 616.831.2928.