The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) hosted 73,218 students on field trips last school year. Of these, 30,082 were from Wayne County, 17,843 from Oakland County and 12,806 from Macomb County. The DIA provides free bus transportation and free admission for schools in those counties, thanks to a tri-county millage passed in 2012.
“The museum offers students learning experiences that they cannot find in the classroom alone,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “Museum visits spark students’ imaginations, encourage discovery and build critical thinking skills that allow students to step outside the familiar to experience a diversity of cultures and perspectives.”
Transportation costs have long been a major barrier for teachers wanting to take their students on field trips, but because the DIA arranges and pays for bus transportation, field trips have become a more viable option for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county schools.
The museum offers field trips for Pre-K–grade 12 classroom and home-school groups, summer and recreational camps and community organizations. For a guided experience, DIA gallery teachers use inquiry-based and student-centered teaching strategies to facilitate learning. K–12 guided field trips explore art to build creative thinking and inspire curiosity and wonder through active, hands-on engagements, while supporting classroom curriculum learning outcomes. For teachers who prefer a non-guided tour, the museum provides helpful online teaching resources, including graphic organizers tied to various curriculum areas, lesson plans and writing prompts.
“The DIA tailored the visit for my students, giving many of them their first glimpse at the museum’s expansive art collection from around the world,” said Nicki Mather, a kindergarten teacher at Lobbestael Elementary in Harrison Township. “After the tour, students talked about what they learned in small groups. It was a great opportunity for them to share their experiences at the DIA with one another.”
Melissa Carson, a speech-language pathologist at Trenton High School, said, “Field trips to the DIA offer positive experiences that expose our students to art, culture and history while practicing the social skills they learn in the classroom. Our students enjoy visiting the DIA because they have the freedom to enjoy art and culture in their own ways.”
“Our elementary students are astounded by the art when they visit the DIA,” said Susan Kleintjes, an art teacher at McKinley Elementary School in Warren. “The free field trips unite art and education, and help students connect what they are taught in the classroom to real-life history and culture that they can’t experience anywhere else.”
The DIA is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.
Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.