Why Step Into Art?


Drawing on Boston’s world-class museums, Step Into Art programs expose children to the language of art and contribute to their cultural knowledge in a way that opens their eyes and minds to future learning. Third-graders learn terms like “portrait” and “narrative painting” while sixth-graders learn to recognize works by artists ranging from John Singleton Copley to Jackson Pollock.


Sketching at the edge of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s courtyard, students marvel at the unique wonders of fine art museums. Step Into Art programs enable children to discover the joy and wonder that museums hold for all ages. Students gain valuable skills, strategies, and knowledge through interactive, creative, hands-on learning. They also come to feel a sense of belonging in the world of a great museum.


Step Into Art programs offer children the opportunity to develop valuable critical thinking skills. Mounting research suggests that viewing and discussing great works of art enhances children’s learning in other areas, especially science and literature, by helping them build skills of observation, interpretation, and evidence-gathering. Students discuss questions like “Why do you think the artist chose this color?” or “How do you think the person feels in this painting?” They learn to defend their interpretations with evidence from the artwork and its context.


Step Into Art programs engage children’s imagination, spark their creativity, and build their self-confidence. Through our programs, students not only learn how to look at art, they are encouraged to step into art through drama, music, storytelling, and art-making experiences that bring great works of art to life. A student’s Step into Art portfolio might include a Rembrandt-inspired self-portrait, a sketch of John Singer Sargent’s dancers, and the memory of posing like Isabella Stewart Gardner at her balcony.


Step Into Art programs include creative writing inspired by great works of art. Students immerse themselves in new forms of written expression that excite their imaginations while enabling them to attain Common Core goals. Sixth-graders gain a better understanding of point of view and character development by writing stories that give voice to paintings from the Harvard Art Museums – Copley’s “Mrs. Boylston,” the mother in Picasso’s “Mother and Child,” or the artist Jackson Pollock in action. Third-graders embrace the craft of similes, with the world of the Gardner Museum as the inspiration for poetry-writing.


Step Into Art programs culminate in festive exhibitions, where students enjoy the pride of sharing their creative work and gain confidence as public speakers. Sixth-grade program exhibitions take place in galleries at Harvard University, helping nurture students’ aspirations for the future. Third-grade celebrations are held in schools all over Boston. (Learn more about this year’s student exhibitions at Harvard on our Exhibitions page.)