School Partnership Programs

Creativity Academy

Mia’s Creativity Academy is a multiple-visit program for fourth-grade students, designed to foster creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

Mia launched Creativity Academy in 2013–14. Since then the program has expanded to include 485 fourth graders from up to twenty classrooms in six schools: Saint Paul Music Academy and Battle Creek Elementary in St. Paul, and Andersen United, Bethune Community School, Hennepin Elementary, and Prodeo Academy in Minneapolis.

The program curriculum includes four 90-minute lessons, two at school and two at Mia, taught by experienced arts educators. During each lesson, students discuss an artwork in Mia’s collection, create original artworks, and engage in creative writing. Each year, the program culminates in a student exhibition at Mia.

Creativity Academy was virtual this year. Check out our virtual exhibition here!

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Cultural Experiences Partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools

Mia partners with Minneapolis Public Schools to offer every third-grade student a guided tour of Mia, including free bus transportation to the museum. This experience invites third grade students to look closely, think deeply, and talk freely about works of art in Mia’s collection that encourage social emotional learning. Based on the needs of teachers and their students, artworks inspire conversation around themes of feelings, relationships, respect, empathy, self and others, collaboration, cultural pride, and kindness. In addition, two VTS coaches provide in-depth training, modeling, and coaching to third-grade teachers and classrooms in select schools each year.


Bookmaking field trips with 826 MSP

This partnership program is offered by Mia and 826 MSP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills and homework while emphasizing cross-cultural creativity. Together Mia and 826 MSP cultivate students’ creativity through storytelling and bookmaking field trips. In Mia’s studios and galleries, students craft original stories as a class and work with volunteers, including an illustrator, to complete and publish a book within two hours! Each student leaves with an original illustrated book, featuring characters based on artworks in Mia’s collection, and which includes his or her own personalized ending to the story.

This program provides a field trip experience at the museum to third graders from neighborhood schools. Since 2015, participating schools have included Hennepin Elementary, Whittier International School, Stonebridge World School, Anishinabe Academy, and Mississippi Creative Arts.


Neighborhood Art Adventure

The existing Art Adventure program serves over 70,000 students each academic year but has not had a big presence in Mia’s neighborhood schools. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Institute, Art Adventure is now happening at Hennepin Elementary and Whittier International School.

After attending a two-hour training at Mia, volunteers work in pairs to visit elementary classrooms. Visiting once a week for three weeks, they bring six artworks and endless conversation to young students. This model will continue in the future, reaching even more neighborhood students and helping to introduce them to Mia at an early age.

Generous support provided by Mia’s Friends of the Institute.


Pen Pal Program

We launched our pen pal program in 2017 to connect Mia staff with local students. Each staff member volunteers to partner with a student and exchange three letters over a six-week period. Students at Andersen United Community School, a neighbor to Mia, choose one work of art from Mia’s permanent collection to focus on in their correspondence. The program culminates in a one-hour guided tour at Mia, where pen pal partners go around the museum with volunteer guides to see the artworks chosen by students.


Turnaround Arts Partnership

Mia’s Department of Student and Teacher Learning partners with Turnaround Arts: Minnesota. At a national level, Turnaround Arts brings arts education resources into underperforming schools in order to target educational challenges and boost student achievement and engagement. Turnaround Arts: Minnesota schools represent a diversity of student demographics in urban, suburban, and rural settings.

Mia has provided training and coaching for teachers in designated schools using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) in their classrooms. In 2017, Mia piloted a gallery and studio program called “Picturing Community” for fifth-grade students from Cityview Community School, Bethune Community School, and Stonebridge World School. This experience included a VTS tour of the galleries, creative writing, and a studio activity on the theme of community.


Water is Life

“Water is Life” is a collaboration between Mia, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum that began in 2012. Mia’s “World of Water” experience is one of a series of three programs presented by the partners and designed to engage nine hundred students annually in powerful, real-world learning experiences that stimulate scientific discovery, critical thinking, and language development. Together the programs support academic standards in science, social studies, English/language arts, and visual arts.

Mia called its program “World of Water” because it emphasizes how people around the world need water—and they make art to store, carry, drink, use, and celebrate water. During this experience students observe and discuss images or objects focused on the importance of water, create a watercolor painting using diverse materials and experimental techniques in the studios, and design an original water container inspired by sketches they’ve made of art from the around the world.


Your Story, Our Story

Since 2017, Mia’s Department of Student and Teacher Learning has partnered with four high schools (LEAP in St. Paul, Washburn and Roosevelt in Minneapolis, and Park Center in Brooklyn Park) and two middle schools (Washington Technology Magnet in St. Paul, and Field Community School in Minneapolis) on a national project called Your Story, Our Story. This is part of a larger Mia partnership with the Tenement Museum in New York aimed to expand participation in the online exhibition that collects and shares immigrant stories focused on significant objects and cultural traditions. Students began the program with a visit to Mia for a tour focused on artworks that tell immigration and migration stories, and then shared their own stories online. Take a look at their and other Mia partner stories here.


Girls Design the World: Supporting Green Communities with STEAM

“Girls Design the World: Supporting Green Communities with STEAM” was part of Museums Connect, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). In 2015–16 the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, partnered to build a cross-cultural exchange and stimulate dialogue around youth empowerment, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion.

Participating students from Minneapolis and Nairobi researched environmental challenges in their cities and addressed these challenges through the process of design thinking, a tool for brainstorming and prototyping creative solutions to practical problems. Their prototypes were exhibited in their communities.

To learn more visit the Girls Design the World website.