DIA’s New Virtual Field Trip Serves Over 17,000 Students in School Year

The Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) new virtual field trip experience received over 17,000 student reservations during the 2020-2021 school year. Twohundred and forty schools in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb reserved virtual tours for 16,851 students. Twenty schools outside of the tri-counties reserved field trips for 400 students.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person field trips to the DIA, the museum’s education team pivoted to create a virtual field trip experience so students could still experience the museum. The virtual field trips are designed to engage students with the works of art from the DIA’s collection through inquiry-based conversations. Each field trip is led by a DIA Gallery Teacher via a PowerPoint
presentation featuring high-resolution images.

“The 2020 – 2021 school year was unlike any other and the DIA was committed to serving the needs of students and educators in the area, even during a pandemic,” said Jason Gillespie, director of Education Programs at the DIA. “While we were unable to welcome students in the museum for field trips, we were pleased that the virtual field trip program was so successful. This program seemed to work for many teachers, and we look forward to opportunities to engage students and teachers with the world-class collection at the DIA in new ways moving forward.”

Teachers are able to choose between a variety of topics to introduce students to a range of art from different cultures during the 45-minute online field trip.

“The DIA’s Virtual Field Trips are a perfect opportunity for our students to explore the world’s diverse cultures from the comfort of their classroom. My students did a survey and the DIA virtual field trip was their favorite of the year,” said Jeanine Wilson, teacher at Vernor Elementary in Detroit. “They enjoyed the interactive piece, and students were not only engaged but actively participating in the field trip too! The other reason was the well-trained staff. The kids loved the gallery teacher’s attitude and fun personality. It was a perfect match and we hope to do the trip again next year. The DIA has had a great impact on my life as well as an educator. It embraces Detroit’s students and always has. I’ve taken kids on trips for 20 years there!”


The DIA will continue the virtual field trips during the 2021 school year. Plans are also being discussed to safely bring back in-person field trips to the museum in the fall.

Virtual fields trips are free to schools in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. Schools outside the tri-counties can reserve a virtual field trip for a small fee.

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