Visiting Action Jackson

Recently I mentioned taking my 5th grade students on a field trip to the Des Moines Art Center and Papajohn Sculpture Park.  Each year, all the 5th graders in our district get to visit the Des Moines Art Center, and it’s such a special treat for me to show students some famous artwork firsthand. The kids usually do a great job with this trip and every year I am thankful for the experience.

A new exhibition had just opened the day before we came, lucky us.  One of Jackson Pollack’s most influential works Mural, 1943, which was a gift to the University of Iowa from Peggy Guggenheim. (photo image sources linked when you click on photos below as I couldn’t take photos in the art center).

This video of Pollack painting would be a good one to show students, too. At the exhibit they had a TV set up with a video of him working. It was a nice addition to the piece to give students a true picture of his unique process.

Because I do a Jackson Pollack Lesson (and no, I don’t let them splatter paint) in Kindergarten with Line, it was especially cool to see if the 5th graders remembered learning about it. By the way, feel free to download that lesson for free on our Lessons page!

Onto the next leg of our trip- the sculpture park.  The outdoor sculpture park has some great pieces. It was the first time I’d taken students to an outdoor art tour and they really enjoyed it. Many of them had walked through the park, but didn’t know anything about the art. My hope is the students will take their parents through and expose them to some new information about the art and help engage their families in art conversation. I think families are less intimated by public art outside and more apt to visit, then the intimidation of going into an art center or museum.  Always advocating!


PS.  Even if you can’t take your students to an art museum, you can bring the museum to them through activities and resources you can create and share during one of our summer class “Exploring the Art Museum.”

Do you get to take your students on any art related field trips? 

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Love it! Every year our 4th graders take a music and art field trip to the Rochester Philharmonic in the morning and the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery in the afternoon. I am so fortunate to take this field trip, as I know this may be the only time for some of our students to go to an actual gallery- I DO wish, though, that we had longer than a half a day. It goes by so fast! Every child goes home with free passes for four in hopes that they return to the museum with their family. 

  • Claracrosby

    I took the 3rd and 4th grade students to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  It was our final session of VTS!

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