Education Resources from Past Exhibitions

Education Mission

Our educational mission includes preparing materials for teachers to make their class visits more fun and informative. You can download PDF files here to print as handouts for your students when they visit the museum and for use in the classroom. Please note: the following education materials provided here are from AVAM's past exhibitions. For info & materials related to our Current Exhibitions, please visit our Education Resources page.

Kings Mouth

Wayne Coyne, King's Mouth, 2015, Mixed Media, Courtesy of the artist

The Big Hope Show

October 3, 2015–September 4, 2016

The Big Hope Show opens on the eve of the American Visionary Art Museum's 20th anniversary celebration and is an original and unabashedly idealistic, art exhibition that champions the radiant and transformative power of hope. Over twenty-five visionary artists, among them many "super survivors" of enormous personal traumas, exhibit soulful creations reflecting their personal transcendence, and, often, a heightened or newfound creativity and sense of humor.


Educational Materials:

PDF files - right click & choose "Save File" to download.


Ingo Swann, Feminine Rising (detail), 1997, Oil on canvas, Gift to Perm. Collection

The Visionary Experience: Saint Francis to Finster

October 4, 2014–August 30, 2015

AVAM's 20th original exhibition champions life's grand "Aha!" and "Eureka!" moments, held in common by Earth's most dynamic and intuitive "evolutionaries:" inventors, scientists, America's founding fathers, dreamers and saints; each touched by some lightening bolt of greater understanding, insight, grace and muse. Featuring a spirited centennial celebration of America's most prolific self-tutored and "on fire" artist, Rev. Howard Finster, with illuminating works by visionaries: Ingo Swann, Jimi Hendrix, Christine Sefolosha, Walter Russell, Robert Crumb, Paolo Soleri, Dr. Robert Hieronimus, plus an exploration of inventive new spiritual groups: Unarius Academy of Science, The Source Family, and much more!


Educational Materials:

PDF files - right click & choose "Save File" to download.


Allen Christian, detail: Piano Family, 2012, spare piano parts

Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity!

October 5, 2013–August 31, 2014

AVAM's newest exhibition takes on its most complex subject yet: examining the rapid and ever-increasing impact of artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data on nearly every aspect of human life. This thought-provoking exhibit investigates technology's influence on issues of privacy and surveillance, employment and manufacturing, longevity and health, defense and warfare, farming and food, access to global and personal information, creative invention, and entertainment. This is high stakes, new territory never before negotiated by any prior civilization. Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired Magazine, well-defined the unprecedented nature of our times: "Singularity is the point at which all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes."

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"Singularity" Educational Materials:

Béatrice Coron, MAD Growth, 2010, Cut Tyvek, Photo Dan Meyers

The Art of Storytelling: Lies, Enchantment, Humor & Truth

October 6, 2012–September 1, 2013

"Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale." –Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875)

From scripture to fairy tale, cartoons to cyberbullying, the raw power of stories to inspire and enchant, spread lies or to inform, simply has no equal. THE ART OF STORYTELLING: Lies, Enchantment, Humor & Truth is the American Visionary Art Museum's brand-new, supremely original exhibition featuring embroidery, diorama, sculpture, film, graffiti, and PostSecret confession—promoting all manner of acute 'visual listening' and delight for the whole family.

The museum's 18th, yearlong, thematic exhibition explores the impact of story via visual narratives created by 30+ visionary artists, each expressive of some personal aspect of tale-telling. Their intuitive creations include: the intricate cutout stories of TED speaker and artist sensation, Béatrice Coron; Mars Tokyo's miniature 3-D Theaters of the 13th Dimension; and by popular demand, the return of Esther Krinitz's love-filled, 36-piece, embroidered tale of her Holocaust survival. Other exhibition highlights include a collection of twenty painted self-portrait stories by rescued Cambodian children, and accompanied by Leslie Hope's documentary film, What I See When I Close My Eyes; photographer Larry Yust's Streets Tell Stories, images of graffiti and street art from across the globe; and Andi Olsen's filmed stories behind human body scars. Another return from AVAM's inaugural exhibition is Debbie and Mike Schramer's Fairy Tree Houses, guaranteed to enchant as powerfully as AVAM's permanent collection of South African "Truth and Reconciliation" story quilt testimonies. Chris Roberts-Antieau's newest batch of humorous embroidered fabric appliqués join with artist P. Nosa's stitched five-word-inspired scenes, created on his bike pedaled/solar powered, roving sewing machine! Apache elder Judy Tallwing's tribal legends, painted with precious metals and adorned with prayer beads, speak to the oral traditions that pass sacred stories to new generations; and opera/hip-hop/performance artist Vanessa German wields found sculpture assemblages to shout her 'soul stories,' aimed at retelling a more truthful side to African American history.

"There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories." –Ursula K. Le Guinn

"The Art of Storytelling" Educational Materials:

  1. The Art of Storytelling - Classroom Activites
  2. Primary School Scavenger Hunt
  3. Secondary School Scavenger Hunt


PDF files may require Adobe Reader

Additional Education Resources for:

For educational materials directly relating to the work of Esther Krinitz and the Holocaust, please visit

Detail: Flustered Rustics by J.J. Cromer, 2007

ALL THINGS ROUND: Galaxies, Eyeballs & Karma

October 7, 2011–September 2, 2011

The American Visionary Art Museum's seventeenth annual, thematic mega-exhibition ALL THINGS ROUND: Galaxies, Eyeballs & Karma is a celebration and call to awareness of the circular and voluptuous nature of life. From the micro-atomic spin of electrons encircling a nucleus, to the macro orbit of planets rounding our sun, ALL THINGS ROUND delights in the curves, spirals, orbs, and bubbles of full-bodied beauty that playfully manifest throughout art, science, and beyond.

This wholly original art exhibition features the exuberant works of 70+ inspired, intuitive artists including: Scott Weaver's 100,000 toothpick wonder, "Rolling Through The Bay;" Adolf Wölfli's intricate mandala-like works; spherical sculptures of artists who are sight-impaired; and the micro dot sock-thread embroideries of Ray Materson. Don't miss Frank Warren's all-time best true karmic "PostSecrets;" the 3-D sacred yarn paintings of the Huichol Indians; and a cosmic tribute to cyclical notions of time – including an exploration into the fast-approaching 2012 Winter Solstice "end" of the Mayan Calendar!

Co-curated by Museum Founder & Director Rebecca Hoffberger and Mary Ellen 'Dolly' Vehlow – award-winning graphic designer & founder/sponsor of Washington, D.C.'s H Street Festival, ALL THINGS ROUND: Galaxies, Eyeballs & Karma is a lively circle dance with its visitors of all ages at its center!

"All Things Round" Educational Materials:

  1. Visionary Activites for the Classroom
  2. Primary School Scavenger Hunt
  3. Secondary School Scavenger Hunt


PDF files may require Adobe Reader

Click Here to view an archive of educational materials from our past exhibitions.


Detail: What Me Worry? bed by Patty Kuzbida

What Makes Us Smile?

October 9, 2010 – September 4, 2011

"What Makes Us Smile?" is the American Visionary Art Museum's 16th year-long exhibition — a playful celebration of human joy that is co-curated by renowned creator of "The Simpsons," Matt Groening, artist Gary Panter – known for, among many other things, his whimsy behind Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse – and Museum founder Rebecca Hoffberger. "Smile" features the costumes, cartoons, out-loud & 3-D glee-filled surprises created by 90 artists, imps, and comedians with accompanying essays, factoids, quotes and blurbs that revel in the history and science behind the gift of laughter.

Among the highlights: The comedian Michael Baldwin's spectacular toy assemblages – created from five decades of dedicated dumpster-diving; the wickedly funny cartoons of the late quadriplegic artist John Callahan; and the comical, "unflattering" portraits by Rev. Aitor. Other exciting contributions include the comic visionary embroideries of Chris Roberts-Antieau and an homage to MAD Magazine including the glittering, beaded, beetle-winged bed by Patty Kuzbida.

Visitors will romp through a warren of mini galleries designed to explore some key aspect of humor – from its biological science to its many timeless, transcultural, delights. The galleries include: "HO-HO-HO HA-HA-HANUKKAH"; "More Tickle!" inspired by the favored signed words of Washoe, the first chimp to learn ASL; "Toot Suite!; "Holy Laughter"; "Tears to Laughter"; "Boo! Why Playing Monster is Fun" and the "Visionary Kid's Room."

"What Makes Us Smile?" Educational Materials:

  1. Visionary Activites for the Classroom
  2. Primary School Scavenger Hunt
  3. Secondary School Scavenger Hunt


PDF files may require Adobe Reader

Perkins Gourd

Detail: Painted Gourd by Benjamin F. Perkins

Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness

October 3, 2009 – September 5, 2010

The quest for human rights and the search for personal fulfillment, as proposed in the 1776 American Declaration of Independence, provide the starting point for this international exhibition curated by Roger Manley (curator of AVAM's mega-popular inaugural exhibition "Tree of Life.") Works by 86 visionary artists are featured. Illustrator Renaldo Kuhler's vast imaginary country of "Rocaterrania," Tilden Stone's masterful "Furnitures of Secrets," and Duncan Laurie's "Purr Generator" (a "happiness machine") are among the many works that never have been shown publicly before. "We think of big ideas like 'life' and 'liberty' as if they have to do with sweeping numbers of people," says curator Roger Manley, "but in fact they begin with the individual. And who could be better suited to reveal that, than self-taught visionaries? By definition, these are some of the most independent and individual thinkers and doers of all, and they've found some amazing, revealing, and entertaining ways to express their take on what makes our country what it is - or what it should be."

"Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness" Educational Materials:

  1. Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness Activities for the Classroom
  2. Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness Scavenger Hunt: Primary School Version
  3. Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness Scavenger Hunt: Secondary School Version


PDF files may require Adobe Reader

Current Exhibition Education Resources are available here