A Simple Outline for Connecting With Your Local Museum

museum partnership

Taking a trip to your local museum or art center can be an enriching experience for students and teachers alike. The chance to leave the school and engage with REAL art is pretty awesome. But for most of us, that is where the experience ends. We go, we look, we leave, we move on. If this sounds familiar, you might consider building a formal partnership with your favorite field trip destination. You can make student learning deep, connect to the curriculum and greater community, and take the experience from OK to outstanding by following this simple outline…

1. Set Up a Meeting

Contact the education department of your potential partner and set up a time to talk about outlining a formal relationship. Invite your administrator along and set an agenda that includes mutual goals, resources, and needs. Start a discussion that answers these questions: What do you want for your students? What does the museum want from students and teachers? What are some ways we can work together to meet those needs? Here are 3 ideas to get you started…

1. Collaborate on a lesson based on certain pieces in the museum collection. The finished pieces could be displayed at a special show on site.
2. Have museum educators come into your classroom as visiting art historians to co-teach.
3. Create a “Day at the Museum” event for students a families from your school. Discounted admission and student docents could make the event accessible and engaging.

2. Determine Who Does What

Determine your immediate action steps in implementing your partnership plan, then divvy them up. Set clear expectations for each party.

3. Plan to Plan

Great partnerships are formed through a lot of time spent together. Set up a regular monthly meeting to keep ideas and feedback fresh.  Create an evaluation form so that honest conversations are guided by a shared vision of the partnership.

For a more detailed look at museum partnerships, check out this in-depth guide called True Needs, True Partners

Have you developed partnerships with your local cultural organizations? What kinds of activities have you done?

What questions do you have regarding setting up partnerships like these?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Sarah Dougherty

Sarah Dougherty, a visual arts curriculum coordinator, is a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator. She loves working with diverse populations to bring art into students’ homes, communities, and everyday lives.

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