NCMALearn Expands Reach Via Virtual Art Education

Museum’s relaunched website makes art education resources more accessible to parents, teachers and students
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Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh houses the largest Rodin collection between Philadelphia and the West Coast, along with an impressive selection of European, African and American art. So it’s no surprise that the museum saw over 617,000 visitors in 2018. What might surprise you, however, is that the museum’s offerings are now more accessible than ever to virtual visitors, thanks to the NCMALearn program.

The museum’s art education program was first launched in 2005 as ArtNC. In 2017, the museum relaunched the program with its new name and website: NCMALearn and


Expanding Reach

The NCMALearn website showcases more than 200 of the museum’s works of art. The site also provides lesson plans developed to meet North Carolina curriculum standards. Lesson plans are supported with additional resources, such as high-resolution images, activities and videos.

Coordinator of School and Teacher Programs Jill Taylor says the NCMALearn lesson plans focus on more than art education. 

“They help parents, teachers and students connect art with other disciplines such as STEM, reading and writing,” Taylor says.

The heart of the NCMALearn program is a searchable database of 200 works from the NCMA’s permanent collection. The database is searchable by art medium, region and concepts, such as family, communication or collaboration. Each work of art is accompanied by artist pages, lesson plans, Quick Tip topics and/or maker videos.

“Some of the videos are by artists themselves, talking about their work,” Taylor says. “And some of the artists are North Carolina artists, so kids can learn more about artists who live in their communities. We even have some videos about the process of making art.”

In addition to the NCMALearn site, the museum is pioneering high-definition videoconferencing that deepens students’ learning before museum visits and provides a virtual field trip experience. In partnership with North Carolina Virtual Public School, the NCMA teaches more than 600 North Carolina students remotely each year.


Accessibility for All

Features like virtual field trips and the NCMALearn program are part of the museum’s mission to be accessible to every North Carolinian. 

“We want to find ways to connect with people who can’t come here in person,” Taylor says. “We also want to provide a way for visitors to continue a relationship with the museum after a visit.” 

Taylor points out that while the NCMALearn program reaches more than 24,000 educators annually through workshops, distance education and teacher training, the NCMALearn resources are also great for parents. Taylor points to the site’s Quick Tips section as a way for parents to offer their children bite-sized ideas and activities that are related to works of art. 

“Quick Tips might be useful after families have visited the museum and want to follow up on the experience with their kids,” Taylor says. “The Works of Art section might also help visitors decide ahead of time and plan what they want to see.”

For parents and teachers interested in getting their schools involved in the NCMALearn program, Taylor recommends that parents communicate with their schools' administrators to help arrange those programs. 

“Parents can play a great role in making sure teachers are aware of the NCMALearn site and opportunities,” Taylor says. “We do a lot of work to get information to teachers, but word-of-mouth through parents is even more helpful.”


Christa Hogan is a local freelance writer and mom to three boys.

More Family Fun at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Families who are able to make the trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh can check out these additional family- and kid-friendly programs. Call 919-839-6262 for details or visit Museum admission is free, though there’s often a fee for special exhibits. The North Carolina Museum of Art is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh and is open Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m-5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and some holidays.

NCMA Camps
Discover art — indoors and out — through uniquely themed camps. Teen and preteen workshops are also available.

Weekend Family Tours
Enjoy a 30-minute free, guided tour with a lively discussion and activities in the galleries. This is for kids ages 5-11 with adults. 

What’s in the Box?
Explore a work of art through one of six themes: animals, people, places, seasons/nature, movement and parts of art. For ages 2-5 with adults. 45 minutes.

Family Fun Saturday Workshops
Explore the museum’s collection and create themed projects together in the studio. Ages 5–11 with adults. Two hours.

Pop-Up Art
Find drop-in activities, free for all ages with accompanying adults, that involve family-friendly projects inspired by the museum’s collection.

Family Festivals
Make art, visit the museum and watch demonstrations as a family for free.

Explore on Your Own
Take advantage of one of the museum’s free, self-guided experiences. The following guides are available in English and Spanish:
• African Art Activity Guide (ages 5-11)
• Tour-in-a-Tote (ages 5-11)
• Park Packs (pre-K-elementary school)

Virtual Museum Tours

The following museums in the U.S. and around the world offer virtual tours and online collections.

The Frick Museum
New York City

The Guggenheim
New York City

The Dali Theatre-Museum
Catalonia, Spain

The Louvre
Paris, France

The National Gallery
London, England


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