As a teaching museum, we offer immersive, interdisciplinary, educational experiences for university faculty and students, Iowa educators and schoolchildren, and curious people of all ages.

Our Teaching Museum Story

The Stanley Museum of Art's extensive collections offer exciting educational opportunities for learners of all ages.

Art can be a powerful way for University of Iowa students to connect to their studies. Students from all disciplines can benefit from the many transferable skills that close looking at art sharpens. These include observation, critical thinking, cultural awareness, written and oral communication, and empathy. Art allows individuals to step into new paradigms of thought, expanding their perceptions and inspiring change.

The Stanley’s collections act as a library of global visual culture, and the third-floor classrooms of the new building serve as a laboratory for the direct study of art. The collections provide new lenses for students to examine history, science, languages and cultures, current social issues, the human experience, and more. The Stanley Museum of Art collaborates with colleges and departments across campus to facilitate education through visual art. The museum’s staff works with university faculty to select artworks that complement course objectives, provide new contexts, and promote deeper understanding of course content. Previous collaborations range from the College of Engineering to the Dance Department, from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to the College of Dentistry. One collaboration brought first-year physics students to the museum to view prints by Francisco Goya in preparation for making their own prints using a computer program.

The Stanley also is dedicated to teaching the next generation of museum professionals. UI students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees can gain valuable pre-professional experience by working in the museum as gallery hosts, interns, and graduate assistants. Students can learn and acquire transferable skills and expertise unique to art museum professions. Opportunities are available in all areas of the museum, from curatorial to marketing, for student learning.

Art in the Stanley’s collection helps to serve the educational mission of K-12 students as well. The Stanley School Programs connect the museum with schools of all sizes by bringing students into the gallery spaces. In the new building, K-12 students will receive a tour of the galleries led by a staff member or docent. While the tour will focus on select objects, students will be able to take in hundreds of artworks as they walk through the spaces. These visits provide each student with a high-impact, object-based learning experience that fosters curiosity and an appreciation of art.

The Stanley also offers a variety of educational programming designed for all ages. Stanley Creates is an interactive program for children and teens to learn art-making techniques inspired by the Stanley’s collection using everyday materials. Meanwhile, the Stanley Reads program, created in partnership with Iowa City’s Prairie Lights bookstore, provides an opportunity for adults in the community to reflect on the ways the visual and literary arts intersect and reflect each other. Additionally, the Stanley’s Senior Living Communities (SLC) and Connected for Life programs feature monthly, interactive activities that are designed to enrich the lives of older adults by increasing social connection through creative engagement and intellectual discussions on the cultural, historical, and formal elements of art.