Schools & Educators

Schools & Educators


School Tours & Workshops

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 permanent collection to the U.S. and Michigan History curriculum. Consider themes such as the 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.

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.


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.

Tour + Workshop Times

Tours are available between 10:00 am and 4 pm.
Workshops can be added to any tour that begins before 3:15 pm.

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.

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.



Design Thinking @ GRAM

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

Critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, the 4 C’s of Design Thinking at GRAM, are taught through interactions with contemporary artworks and practical hands-on activities to create an opportunity for educators to acquire 21st century skills necessary for the modern classroom.

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.

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
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.

For more information regarding professional development offerings or to create an experience all your own please contact the School Programs Senior Coordinator at or 616.831.2928.


College and University faculty who wish to provide their students with access to the art museum for related course work may submit their rosters for a fee of $20.00 per course listing. The fee will allow students and course instructors unlimited visits to the museum throughout the length of the semester. Please plan to submit your course roster at least three weeks in advance of the first visit.

College and University Request Form

For more information please contact the Learning + Creativity Coordinator at or 616.831.2914.

To register your course listing, please fill out and return the form provided.

The Jansma Works on Paper Study Room is a valuable resource within the museum. The museum’s collection includes many significant works on paper, ranging from 16th century engravings and woodcuts to contemporary screen prints, watercolors, and photographs. Outstanding examples include the graphic work of Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Mary Cassatt, Henri deToulouse-Lautrec, and Robert Motherwell; as well as photographs by Francis Frith and Èdouard Baldus.

Open Hours:
The Jansma Works on Paper Study Room is open upon request, and professors may make an appointment to bring their students to view the works. Class size in the Study Room is limited to 18 participants. Rosters with more students can be divided into smaller groups and arrive in shifts or in separate trips.

Please call the Curatorial Assistant, Jennifer Wcisel at 616.242.5026 to set up a visit. The submission of a class roster and $20 per course-listing fee is also required.