A Focus on Student Art Tours of New York City and Washington D.C.

By Howard Clemens

Artists have been challenging us to see our world in new ways for centuries. Art teachers may want to consider bringing classes on tour of museums in New York City and Washington DC that house the most comprehensive collections of art in the United States. When organizing student tours of these cities it is important to consider these museums. It is no exaggeration to say that lives can be changed for the better by visiting such collections of art. For many students, this may be their only visit to a museum in a large U.S. city. Other students may decide to live in a large city and experience the cultural life firsthand.

The Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art are the three highlighted museums for New York City. The Phillips Collection, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden are recommended stops on the itinerary for Washington DC.

On Fifth Avenue in New York City the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the most recognizable and iconic buildings. The Guggenheim Museum was designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. When planning your class trip to New York City, please look at the museum’s online events calendar. Not only are there daily tours of “Art in the Round” but also there are films, and often in-depth discussions on pieces in the collection and even on the building itself. While the Guggenheim houses the private collections of art there are always new acquisitions on view. Check the timing of a student trip and coordinate attendance of special shows at the Guggenheim with a student travel company representative.

Not far from the Guggenheim is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, boasting one of the largest, most eclectic collections of art in the world. This world-class structure houses paintings, arms and armor, furnishings, sculpture and design from every imaginable worldwide location. This is an enormous museum, so please be sure to see their website to plan your visit with specific concentrations on the permanent collection as well as to view current and upcoming traveling exhibitions.

The Museum of Modern Art, known the world over as MoMA, has the most important collection of some of the most astonishing talent the world has ever seen. The permanent collection contains some of the most sought after art by Matisse, Van Gogh, Balla, Rothko, Warhol and others. One of the most popular exhibitions which is on view until January, 2016 is called, “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” The future of design and the technology that is creating the road to that future are highlighted in this strange and beautiful exhibition.

In the heart of Washington D.C., student travel groups may visit the National Gallery of Art and the famous Phillips Collection, as well as the National Portrait Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The National Gallery of Art features painting, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the present day. The Photographic collection dates from 1839. On a pleasant day, student tour groups can wander through the Sculpture Garden. Here students can see art from around the world and the work of artists who either studied or taught at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and went on to distinguish themselves. A Media Arts section is also part of the museum, representing contemporary artists that work in digital media.

Art lovers from around the world travel to the Phillips Collection each year to see the Mark Rothko Room, and other famous paintings like Renoir’s classic “Boating Party.” Georgia O’Keefe, Man Ray and other artists are part of the permanent collection. Paul Klee fans know about the large number of his paintings at the Phillips, and visit often. The museum’s website has comprehensive educational resources for much of the catalog. For instance Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series” is featured on the website. This series of sixty paintings depicts the migration of African Americans from the South to the North in the early twentieth century.

The National Portrait Gallery houses a complete collection of original portraits of the presidents of the United States. Besides presidents, the gallery holds paintings of other great American leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Pop culture Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Woody Allen share space with musical giants like George and Ira Gershwin. A visit to the National Portrait Gallery is as much about art as it is history. There are special exhibits detailing trends in America as well as struggles. See portraits of activists for labor rights, civil rights, and Native American activist Leonard Crow Dog, among many other famous Americans.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has a staff dedicated to a deep understanding of art and artist. The museum mission includes the statement, “Good art should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?’” Paintings by Francis Bacon and Joan Mitchell are part of this historic collection. The Sculpture Garden houses some of the most innovative and famous sculptors from around the world, including Brancusi, Rodin, Miro and others. Student tour groups are encouraged to visit the Hirshhorn and learn more with ARTLAB+ and special comprehensive class tours of the collections.

These museums house some of the great treasures of the United States, and visiting them with art classes is part of seeing art as a unique educational tool and framework for not only historical record, but also as a means to forge a better future for humanity and the planet. Artists are the best collaborators a teacher can have. Consider art the classroom itself. Take student groups on tour of these museums to expand their knowledge of art throughout the ages.

For more information about student art tours of New York City, Washington D.C. and other U.S. destinations, visit http://www.educatioanltravelconsultants.com.

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