Teaching with Primary Sources Workshop Series

By the Archives
April 27, 2021

The Archives of American Art is pleased to invite applications from postsecondary teachers to participate in a series of two professional development workshops, held virtually in August and September 2021, focused on teaching the history of American art with primary sources.

These workshops will provide an engaging forum for fostering innovative approaches to teaching American art history. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to conceive and share experimental classroom assignments that develop students’ competencies in primary research, hone critical thinking skills, and stimulate creative analysis. These workshops also seek to expand traditional art-historical narratives by focusing on archival records of underrepresented artists and arts organizations and encourage the use of the Archives of American Art’s online resources in curricula. 

Each participant will attend a two-part virtual workshop, craft a low-stakes assignment to include in one of their fall 2021 courses, share their assignment on the Smithsonian Institution's Learning Lab platform, respond to a post-workshop survey about their experience teaching with primary sources, and solicit student feedback.  Participants are encouraged to consult with the staff of the Archives of American Art and draw from the more than three million digital files freely available on the Archives’ website.

Program Schedule

Program participants will be split into two cohorts, each meeting twice:

  • The first cohort will meet August 6 and September 17, 2–3:30pm EST 
  • The second cohort will meet August 13 and September 24, 2–3:30pm EST

Each of the two cohorts will include twenty individuals (for a total of forty program participants.) 

Applicants may express preference for one cohort over the other, but we cannot guarantee that all requests will be honored. For the time being, we ask that applicants hold the session dates for both cohorts on their calendars.

Application Instructions

A complete application will consist of a narrative statement of no more than one page and a CV, submitted as a single PDF to AAA-TeachingWithPrimarySources@si.edu. In their narrative statement, applicants must:

•    demonstrate their commitment to teaching art history at the college level;
•    discuss how the goals of the workshop would benefit their teaching; and 
•    express their commitment to participating in all program activities.   

The application deadline is May 19, 2021.

Applicants will be notified of decisions by June 4. For further information, please contact Thomas Edwards at EdwardsTh@si.edu.


In 2019, the Archives of American Art, the Lunder Institute for American Art at the Colby Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art identified a cohort of ten early-career scholars to participate in a three-year workshop program geared toward testing new primary source pedagogical models and developing adaptable teaching models for the Smithsonian Institution's Learning Lab (to be available summer 2021).

With generous support from the Dedalus Foundation, the new workshops planned for August and September 2021 will build on that foundation.

About the Archives of American Art 

Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than two hundred years of our nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its exhibitions and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitizing of archival collections, the Archives makes more than 2.9 million digital images freely available online. The Archives’ oral history collection includes more than 2,400 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world.  For more information, visit the Archives website at www.aaa.si.edu.

About the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.

The Dedalus Foundation, created by the artist Robert Motherwell in 1981, cultivates and supports public understanding and appreciation of modern art and modernism. The Foundation builds on Motherwell’s expansive artistic and intellectual vision by developing and funding innovative programs that are centered around arts education, research, publications, curatorial, conservation, and archival initiatives, and include fellowships for individuals as well as institutional partnerships. As the repository for Motherwell’s studio archives, the Foundation provides access to original documents and photographs related to Motherwell’s life and artistic practices, as well as materials at the intersection of modern art, American art of the twentieth century, and Abstract Expressionism. For more information, visit www.dedalusfoundation.org.