Dallas art museums offer summer educational and volunteer programs

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the museums. There are over 30 museums in Dallas and people all over the world come to see them.

But you don’t have to be from out-of-town to visit a museum. People from Dallas and neighboring cities should take advantage of the beautiful exhibits and educational programs at nearby museums.

Museums are a great way for students to learn about subjects that interest them. For example, some schools might not offer art or art history classes, but I visited two art museums in Downtown Dallas’ Art’s District that are offering programming this summer for students of all ages.

Nasher Sculpture Center

Nasher Sculpture Center sign. (Photo by: Alexis Kopp)

The Nasher Sculpture Center’s collection includes modern and contemporary paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and more than 300 sculptures. Admission into the museum is $10 for adults and $5 for students with their school ID. Children 12-years old and younger get into the museum for free.

The Nasher Sculpture Center is offering many summer programs for elementary school students, high school students, and even teachers.

“We love teens, we love kids, and we love adults,” Linda Wilbur, Manager of Tour Programs, said.

There are two kinds of programs for younger students. The NasherKids Camp is for students in the 1st through 4th grades and includes art history lessons taught through stories, games, and hands-on art projects. Target First Saturdays is a monthly family program for children in preschool and elementary school which allows students to learn with their families.


Teenagers can attend the Nasher Summer Institute for Teens and Destination Dallas Summer Architecture Workshop. The Nasher Summer Institute for Teens is a week-long program where students get to learn about the museum and contemporary art, while also working on studio projects with professional artists.

“Our teen program is a little more career oriented,” Curator of Education Anna Smith said.

Destination Dallas is also a week-long program in which students explore the structures of Dallas, learn about architecture, and develop their own architectural designs. Wilbur said this program was created because people from all over the world visit the museum due to its unique architecture.

(From left to right) Anna Smith, Curator of Education; Linda Wilbur, Manger of Tour Programs; Cassandra Emswiler Burd, PR and Social Media Coordinator at the Nasher Sculpture Center. (Photo by: Alexis Kopp)

The Nasher Sculpture Center also offers a week-long teacher program. This is a collaborative program with The Rachofsky Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Kimbell Art Museum. Teachers from Plano and Richardson Independent School Districts, private schools, and schools out of state come to the Nasher Sculpture Center to learn about contemporary art.

“I feel like a lot of K through 12 teachers don’t get to teach or are not comfortable teaching contemporary art, so this is a chance for them to learn about it,” Smith said. “They get to experience different works of art and a different teaching style.”

Outside of these programs, the Nasher Sculpture Center enjoys seeing students visiting the museum on their own time during the summer.

“We hope it’s an opportunity for them to have more free time to kind of explore on their own,” Wilbur said. “They don’t have the time constraints as they do when they have school.”

Dallas Museum of Art

The Dallas Museum of Art. (Photo by: Alexis Kopp)

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has more than 24,000 works of art in their collection and has eight feature exhibitions. With free admission, it is easy to access the thousands of years of history and culture awaiting at the DMA.

Like the Nasher Sculpture Center, the DMA has plenty of programming going on this summer. Most of the programs are for teenagers (ages 13 to 19 years old), but the DMA offers family programming every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. During family programming, younger students can learn with their families through story time and interactive art stations.

Every Thursday the DMA offers free teen tours. Last week’s teen tour was a selfie tour, where students got to take selfies with the artwork while they learned about each piece.

Teen workshops are held monthly. June’s workshop will be about printmaking. Visiting artist Chrisopher Blay will lead the teens in creating their own linoleum blocks to make giant stamps.

Jessica Thompson, Manager of Teen Programs at the DMA. (Photo by: Alexis Kopp)

Programming is created by the DMA Teen Advisory Council with help from the educators on staff.

“We embrace the for teens, by teens kind of programming mission,” Manager of Teen Programs Jessica Thompson said.

The main project the Teen Advisory Council is working on this summer is planning a teen night called “Disconnect to Reconnect.” On July 20, the DMA will be filled with teenagers from the Dallas area. The event will include live bands, a poetry slam, and other activities.

There is also a Teen Ambassador Program at the DMA. The Teen Ambassadors are summer volunteers. These 24 students give tours and lead activities throughout the gallery.

“It’s definitely important to support learning during the summer to prevent learning loss,” Thompson said. “Museums are also incredibly important to understanding our culture and becoming a well-rounded human-being.”


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