Education & Arts | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

"[My students] were asking deeper questions, sharing more stories, and trying harder because of the supportive relationships the students had developed with...Museum staff."

Annie Lefkowitz, 4th grade teacher, Cienega Elementary School

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What's New?

Interplay: Inspiring Wonder, Discovery, and Learning Through Interdisciplinary Museum Community Partnerships

Learn about the origins of the Roundtable program and explore case studies of community partnerships in this new 124-page Museum publication.

Hard copies of Interplay are now available from the Museum Store, or download PDF of full publication here. (3.5MB)

Now on View in Inter/Act!

"Bridge Over Time: How Do People Use Public Spaces?"
June 26 - September 12, 2010

Visit the Roundtable program's latest exhibition in Inter/Act, featuring an after-school project in which students from Parras Middle School discovered the history of their Redondo Beach neighborhood through History, Language Arts, and Theatre.

See Project Ideas for downloads of full project summary, photos gallery, and project video.

The Inter/Act gallery space is located on Level 1 of the Museum.

Ideas for Learning

Explore K-12 project ideas created by Roundtable education and community collaborations. Discover project-based lessons and activities that promote interdisciplinary learning through science, language arts, history, and the visual and performing arts.

Video Highlights from Inter/Act

Discover the stories and meet the amazing people behind Inter/Act on our YouTube channel.
View more >

Project Spotlight

Let photos tell the story!

Browse the photo galleries of past and present Roundtable projects.

Claiming Our Space
How Do I Observe My World?
Our L.A. Basin: A World of Wonder
Backyards & Front Porches
How Is Identity Influenced By Nature?

Photography by Don Farber


Teacher, I've Got a Question...
What's the Education & Arts Roundtable?

Learning about natural and cultural history through the arts!

The award-winning Education & Arts Roundtable of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a Museum collaboration that engages selected Los Angeles-area schools and mid-sized arts organizations in exploring ideas for learning, inspired by the collections and resources of the Natural History Family of Museums.* Through the work of the Roundtable and its education and arts partnerships, Los Angeles youth use the visual and performing arts as a catalyst to learn about the natural and social sciences.

These partnerships foster deep, interdisciplinary classroom learning, and give artists and educators joint responsibility and authority over their Museum interactions. By mindfully shifting its role from sole originator of ideas to facilitator of inquiry and discussion, the Museum welcomes the rich dialogue and activities encouraged by the collaboration of committed teachers and artists who inspire our youth to deeper, richer learning experiences.

*Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, and the William S. Hart Park and Museum.

The beginning of the Roundtable . . .

Click here to learn about the history of the Roundtable.

The Roundtable recognized for excellence in museum education programming!

The Education & Arts Roundtable program is the winner of the 2009 EdCom Award for Excellence in Programming. Awarded by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Excellence in Programming Award recognizes exemplary creativity and innovation in museum educational programming. AAM’s Standing Professional Committee on Education (EdCom) advances the purpose of museums as places of lifelong learning, serves as an advocate for diverse audiences and educators, and promotes professional standards and excellence in the practice of museum education.

We thank all of the committed community, arts, and education collaborators who have contributed their time and resources to building and sustaining the Roundtable and its activities.

How does the work of the Roundtable enhance students’ understanding of Museum content?

1)  Roundtable projects allow students to engage the Museum content in depth and over extended periods of time

2)  The Roundtable’s interdisciplinary projects allow students to consider this content in multiple dimensions--through visual art, through dance or theatre, through language, or through history as just a few examples

3)  Students’ sustained, flexible engagement with Museum collections gives them an opportunity to identify what inspires them most about the Museums’ content and use it to catalyze new learning

4)  Artistic media allow students to express and share their learning with others

5)  The artistic process supports students in making connections between the ideas that they are exploring and their own lives

What is the community saying about the Roundtable?

". . . most compelling is the creation of a setting for true innovation in the conceptualization, design, and implementation of educational experiences for students and teachers in the museum and in their classrooms.  To create and sustain a 'hothouse' of this capacity is fantastic and so rare in any realm of educational practice, but particularly extraordinary in museums."
Steve Seidel, Patricia Bauman and John Landrum Bryant Lecturer in Arts in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Though museums have been reaching out to the communities for several decades, these institutions remain wary of opening up processes, especially those that might question curatorial decisions.  Can curators and institutions share this power with their constituents? . . . Work done by the Natural History Museum is proof that museums have stopped being places of privilege and can become democratic spaces."
Cristina Lleras, Art and History Curator, Museo Nacional de Colombia

"I think there's a real elegance in the simplicity of the Roundtable.  There are no predetermined ideas and structures, which often make things far more complicated.  In a stuctured model, you spend time on things like logistics and scheduling rather than spending time thinking about the real possibilities."
Jo Ann Isken, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Lennox School District

"The Education & Arts Roundtable is the most remarkable educational program that I have ever photographed.  The joy and wonderment I see in the children as they are awakening to the natural world is an inspiration.  I believe that this program is so important that it should be implemented in schools and museums everywhere."
Don Farber, Photographer and Fulbright Scholar


The Education and Arts Roundtable of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  Additional funding was provided by the Boeing Foundation, the Joseph Drown Foundation, and the Karisma Foundation.