The American Experience in the Classroom

Using Art to Teach History and Language Arts, Grades 5–12


The American Experience in the Classroom is a resource that features artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection that bring to life selected key moments in our nation’s history, from the emergence of our nation to contemporary life. Primary sources, literary connections, media, and related artworks enrich the dialogue between American art and history. Our evolution as a nation is explored through the rich stories these artworks convey. This is the American Experience.

Explore History in Art

Investigate paired works of art throughout American history. Learn what these objects can teach us about American life during defined historical eras.

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Explore Themes in Art

Explore the common threads that link artworks across time periods in American history. What might a portrait from the 18th century have in common with a 20th century multi-media sculpture?

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Teaching with Art

Find helpful resources for using art in your classroom, including teacher guides, content links, and teaching resources to use with students.

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Interactive Timeline

Visualize the relationship between American art and historical events on a timeline to see how artists responded to the culture of their time.

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