Theme-based Offerings

The Museum offers a wide seletion of theme-based programs. Choose from one of the current offerings below, or call to create a custom -designed visit around specific areas of interest. 

To speak with the Education Manager at CAM about additional information about educational programming at the Museum, email us at [email protected].


Learning to Look

PreK: You See, I See!  (recommended PreK-3) 

Children preschool to early elementary learn skills for looking at art to engage in meaningful conversation with lessons in making observations and comparing elements in art such as color, shape, line, emotion, and subject matter. Popular subjects for visits include color, pattern, people, animals, maritime history, lighthouses, places and objects. 

Forms of Art (recommended PreK-3) 

What is the difference between craft and fine art, painting and sculpture?  What characteristics do each medium have and how does this help shape what we see? Students look at artists working in the tradition of Western art to explore what they draw, paint, and sculpt. 

What is a Collection? (recommended Grade 4-8) 

What do people collect and why? Students explore the practice of collecting from their own lives to communities; from objects to historical narratives and investigate ways Museums help create knowledge. 

Museums of the Future (Recommended Grade 8-12) 

What makes something art and why do we have Museums? Students investigate processes in Museums and the relationships between Museums, artists and communities that continue to shape our lives today.  

A Behind the Scenes look at the Science of Museums (STEAM) 

Look at Museums through a scientific lens! Students learn about collecting, restoring and caring for works of art and historical documents.  


Art and the Environment   

Flowers, Leaves and Herbariums (recommended grades 1-12) 

Find the many ways that artists use images of plants - or the plants themselves - in their art. When is it art, craft or science? Works from the collection and teaching objects include pieces by Native Americans, Cape Ann artists and a Nineteenth century Herbarium of locally found plants.  

The Sea Serpent of Cape Ann (recommended grades 3-6) 

Learn about the great unsolved mystery of the Sea Serpent of Cape Ann. Embedded in the Maritime histories of Gloucester and Manchester-by-the-Sea, students study primary sources to learn about the tale of the Sea Serpent with some speculation of their own! 

Exploring the Saltmarsh Through Art (recommended grades 4-12) 

Saltmarshes have been the subject of art throughout the history of Cape Ann. Students compare some of these artworks to learn ways different cultures at different time periods have thought about this vital but now endangered habitat and make a collaborative cyanotype to reveal the hidden stories of this landscape.  

Cape Ann’s Quarries (recommended grades 4-12) 

Students learn the social and economic history of the quarries as well as the natural beauty of this human made landscape and extend this industry's impacts of economic production to understanding modes of cultural and ideological production. 


Words and Art   

Symbols, Codes and Nautical Flags (recommended PreK-3) 

How did sailors communicate to other ships before technologies such as radio or digital equipment? Students learn about the Maritime history of Cape Ann, the invention of schooners in Essex and Gloucester, and the use of nautical flags to send messages between ships comparing flags to other familiar symbols such as signs or the alphabet. Students invent flags as symbols to send their own messages. 

The Folly Cove Designers (recommended grades 2-5) 

Students study the Folly Cove Designers and read The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios, to explore love of place, generosity, and resilience in a changing world. They learn to make their own block print.    

Stories in the Landscape (recommended grades 2-5) 

Students compare a variety of landscape paintings and explore how themes including setting, mood, character, point of view and change (sequence) are expressed in art, then create a collaborative landscape for their classroom. 

Standing in another’s shoes (recommended grades 2-5) 

Art always reflects a particular point of view influenced by culture, time and personal experience. Students compare portraits to learn about the power of representation in creating narratives we have about ourselves and others. 

Journeys to the Coast: The Stories of Lighthouses (recommended grades 2-5) 

Lighthouses have long been symbols of hope, welcome and illumination. Students learn about the Thacher Island Fresnel lens, talk about ways the ocean connects people around the globe and explore the symbolism of lighthouses.    

Poetry and Art (recommended grades 2-12) 

Students learn to create ekphrastic poetry about works in the CAM Collection. 

Voices from the Sea (recommended grades 4-12) 

Students look at the many layers of story literally and figuratively embedded in the mosaics of Diane KC and investigate how personal narratives carry messages about the human experience for us all. 

Greek Myth in Art (recommended grades 5-12) 

Students analyze sculpture and painting based in Greek and Roman mythology and learn how to find classical references and ideas in modern and contemporary artworks. 


Diverse Communities  

Shaped by the Sea (recommended grades 4-12) 

The lives of the people of Cape Ann have been deeply rooted in living by the sea: work, culture, tradition and daily life have been shaped by it. Students look to Cape Ann’s diverse and rich history with an eye towards its Maritime industries to understand the relationship between people and the places they live.  

Families and Community in Art 

Explore the subject of the family in art from the collection, from colonial paintings to contemporary photographs of families working in Cape Ann’s fishing industries. 

A Sense of Place 

The Folly Cove Designers celebrated the world they experienced on Cape Ann through the subject matter of their prints. Students learn how artists can help create a sense of place and individual identity in their work. 

Evolving cities 

Cities are complex and layered places that evolve and shift over time. Students act as urban archeologists looking at the architecture of Cape Ann to help tell the story of its people. 

Indigenous Histories and Culture, Then and Now 

Learn about the wetu and mush8n at the CAM Green from the authentic voices of Mashpee Wampanoag educators. 

Indigenous Objects in the Collection 

Archeology is a western science for knowing about the past. Through an investigation of objects found on Cape Ann that were made by Indigenous people, and histories shared by Wampanoag educators, students investigate ways to help us understand people who lived on Cape Ann thousands of years ago. 

Fitz Henry Lane and Urban Renewal 

Urban renewal is a process that has evolved alongside critical thinking about diversity, equity and access. Students learn the story of how in the 1950’s Gloucester citizens debated, overcame challenges and ultimately saved the Fitz Henry Lane house for its cultural significance in the face of a powerful movement for urban renewal. 

Nancy Prince 

Students learn about Nancy Prince who pushed back against racism in her time, and whose family was deeply connected to Cape Ann and its history as a participant in the slave trade of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. 

Cape Ann Women in the Arts

Students learn about the many literary and visual women artists of Cape Ann who challenged traditional roles and defied norms to achieve success in their respective arts. 

The Artist Colonies of Cape Ann  

What brought artists to the Cape Ann community starting in the 1800’s which culminated in the great artists’ colonies of Cape Ann during the early twentieth century, and how did their work help shape American Art? 

Becoming Cape Ann - Stories of Immigration 

Cape Ann has been the destination for many immigrants coming to America for many reasons. Students learn how the community has become stronger for its diversity as a result of the rich contributions of peoples from many places.  

African Americans in Essex County, Massachusetts, An Annotated Guide 

In 2018 Dr. Kabria Baumgartner and Dr. Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello published their research into the hidden stories of African American in Essex County. In their words, “The central goal of this two-year, grant-funded project was to identify, locate, and compile the collections and resources, organizations, and individuals concerning the Black experience in Essex County.” Students study the guide and explore the Library and Archives at the Museum to put research strategies into practice. 


An Evolving Nation   

Colonial Settlers on Cape Ann 

CAM offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about colonial America and the American Revolution through the study of authentic artifacts. Bring this period alive through the study of objects such as a British red coat, pre- and post-Revolution art and craft, architecture and primary source documents. Students connect learning about the British settlement of North America and the American Revolution with real objects and local histories. 

Visit the White-Ellery House and Colonial Gardens  (CAM Green)

Take a tour of this first settlement house and study its structure and design. Learn about colonial gardens and visit the James Center. The grounds are a wonderful place for activities and a bagged lunch. 

Gloucester’s Fitz Henry Lane: Luminism in a time of Transcendentalism 

Fitz Henry Lane is celebrated for his depictions of light-filled skies, accurate renderings of activity on Gloucester’s harbor and ships whose stories reveal complex histories. Lane’s work is a fascinating starting point for conversations about historical concepts related to American history including American exceptionalism, the frontier spirit, transcendentalism and comparisons of America before and after the Civil war.   

A Fishing Town: The growth of Cape Ann through the Industrial Revolution 1800-1900 

Fish and Stone, Merchants and Sailors, Stores and Schools: Learn how the Industrial Revolution shaped the lives of people on Cape Ann in the nineteenth century and contributed to the nation's growth during a time of westward expansion.

Artists of the WPA - Progressivism and Social Reform Movements on Cape Ann    

The WPA bridged an era on fire about social reform and progress in Modern society. View the works of WPA artists on Cape Ann and explore both the reality and rhetoric of their works. 

Stereoscope: Imagining a World  

Technology can change what people see and how the world is imagined. Students learn about stereoscopes in 19th century society and the ways they helped people envision their world.  

American Realism: Defining American Art 19th to 20th century 

American Realism celebrated the unique qualities and cultural richness of America through depictions of its landscape as well as the lives of ordinary people. Look at works by Cape Ann artists who followed in the tradition of realism and their pursuit of American themes in art. 

Photojournalism and the Gloucester Daily Times 

Learn about the evolution of newspapers of Gloucester and discover Cape Ann as viewed through the lens of photographers who worked at The Gloucester Daily Times, 1973 - 2005. Students explore the role of photojournalism to document a community and shape a historical narrative of a place. 

Modernism into Postmodernism 

Compare abstraction, surrealism, and expressionism through works by artists such as Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Helen Stein, Theresa Bernstein and other artists who contributed to the emergence of American Modernism. Compare the ideology of Modernism with strategies used by contemporary artists. 


Representation and Art   

Art Detectives (recommended Kindergarten-Grade 2) 

Young students explore portraits in painting and sculpture for clues about their stories, such as setting, clothes, pose, gesture and objects.  

Community Portraits (recommended grades 6-12) 

Whose portraits are made and displayed, who is missing? Students look at portraits in the CAM collections and learn to read between the lines to find missing stories. 

Contemporary Strategies (recommended grades 9-12) 

Contemporary artists often pose new questions and inspire crititcal thinking by showing familiar ideas in new ways. Students look at the work of contemporary artists in the Museum's collection as a starting off point for re-examining historical works.

Sculpting Sense of Self (recommended grades 2-5) 

Students analyze the sculpture and memorials of Walker Hancock to understand the ways memorials speak to human experience and function in a society. 

Celebrating Cape Ann - Festivals in the Community (recommended grades 2-5) 

Students learn about the many traditions celebrated in Cape Ann from the Portuguese crowing and Fiesta to Brazilian Independence Day and Juneteenth to understand how celebrations help create unity and space for connection. 


Schedule a Visit

To schedule a visit please fill out a Request and a CAM Educator will contact you within 48 business hours. (Please note: The Museum's hours are Tuesday-Sunday.)

Request a Visit


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