Spotlight – You Need to Know about These STEM Programs at Art Museums

Spotlight – You Need to Know about These STEM Programs at Art Museums

When most people think about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), they don’t think about creativity. In fact, one of the most common myths about STEM education is that it doesn’t involve creativity. One reason for this misconception is that when people think about the typical characteristics of STEM subjects, they often think about following rigid, logical thought processes, instead of using inspiration and creativity, to solve problems.

However, creativity is one of the most important life skills that students can gain from STEM education. Because of this emphasis on creativity in STEM education, there is an overlap between STEM education and the arts and humanities, which also focus on creativity. Recently, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report claiming that integrating STEM education with the arts and humanities can achieve better learning outcomes in communication, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, empathy, teamwork, and communication.

With the goal of integrating the arts with STEM education, many art museums around the country offer STEM-related programming. These programs help to engage learners in artistic as well as scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical thinking, all at the same time. This kind of programming has the potential to help children achieve higher levels of learning in both STEM and arts subjects. Read on to discover where you can find STEM programs at an art museum near you.


Atlanta, Georgia

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, claims to have been the first art museum in the country to offer STEM-related programming. Since 2013, the museum has hosted a STEM workshop for children in grades K-8. This workshop emphasizes the ways that artists and scientists are similar. Artists and scientists alike are problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and hands-on learners, and these similarities are illustrated through art that involves nature, structural design, light/color contrasts, and shapes and patterns. The workshop introduces older children to concepts such as experimentation with various art materials, the angles and trajectories involved in pendulum painting, the impact of magnetic forces when used in painting, and the chemical makeup of paint.


High Museum of Art
Image by Chris Yunker | Flickr


Charleston, West Virginia

The Juliet Art Museum in the Clay Center in Charleston, West Virginia, will soon feature an exhibition on Leonardo Da Vinci. Through life-size displays of some of Da Vinci’s inventions and drawings, this exhibit highlights not only his contributions to the arts, but also his contributions to the fields of architecture, science, anatomy, and engineering. The museum also features an education space called the Inventor’s Lab, which will host a number of workshops, including ones on STEM and art topics, for school groups visiting the museum.


Cincinnati, Ohio

The Cincinnati Art Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, features the Rosenthal Education Center, which offers hands-on programming for visitors. Recently, the center offered a program focused on the technology, innovations, and inventions that have had an impact on the art world. As part of this program, participants can complete a technology-themed scavenger hunt throughout the art collection. The museum also offers several summer camps, including some with STEM themes like nature and archaeology, for children aged 6-12. Additionally, the museum offers teachers professional development opportunities, including ones that integrate STEM and the arts.


Cincinnati Art Museum
Image by Michael McLean | Flickr


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers young people a series of summer camps, many of which feature STEM themes such geographic modeling, building design, space exploration, video production, nature, metalsmithing, the scientific method, 3-D design, and city planning, just to name a few. The museum also offers workshops for school groups visiting the museum. Some of these sessions feature STEM themes, including the impact of architectural design on daily life, 3-D modeling and design, and the role that the mathematical concepts of proportion and scale play in art.


St. Louis, Missouri

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis Missouri, offers a variety of STEM-related programs. For students in grades 4-12, the museum offers a program on the methods and materials used in making various forms of art, including sculpture, photography, painting, and printmaking. For students in grades 6-12, the museum offers a program on the architecture of its building and the ways people design structures to suit the buildings’ intended purposes. For students in grades K-12, the museum offers a special tour through the art collection that emphasizes STEM concepts such as balance, proportion, patterns, metallurgy, environmental conservation, kinetic energy, and more.