Art to Grow

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a unique place that features both fine art and horticulture. This beautiful environment provides an exciting opportunity for cross disciplinary education. The colorful Art to Grow van and its talented and creative instructors visit schools and other organizations bringing art and nature to your learning space. The curriculum offered provides students with stimulating and creative experiences that teach art concepts, techniques, and history. Each lesson includes a presentation on your selected topic and a hands-on activity.   

Who can use Art to Grow? 
  • Pre-K through 8th grade teachers 
  • Shelby County Schools 
  • Charter schools 
  • Private and parochial schools
  • Teen Outreach: This program is for teens ages 13-18; monthly classes are offered in public spaces throughout the city. Please contact for a list of participating organizations, dates, and times.
  • Art Break: This program is for Corporate members of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Please contact Mary Kathryn Davis at to schedule an Art Break.

During the School Year: Monday through Friday 

  • Each Art to Grow lesson lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. 
  • Teachers can make one reservation for their class, per school year. 
  • Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. 
  • The Dixon requires at least two sessions per school each visit. 

During the Summer: 

  • Art to Grow also operates May through July. During these summer months, the Art to Grow program is available to libraries, summer camps, daycares, and other educational organizations. The Art to Grow summer lesson varies each year and is dependent on what special exhibition the Dixon is hosting.   

Art to Grow is a FREE program. All supplies for your visit will be provided; it is the Dixon’s gift to the community.  

Policies and Regulations: 
  • The classroom teacher must remain in the classroom during their Art to Grow visit. 
  • Contact the Art to Grow instructor with any cancellations at least two weeks prior to your visit. 
  • Please participate in the lesson by helping the Art to Grow instructor with set up and clean up and with classroom management. Refrain from using electronic devices. Failure to comply with the above may jeopardize your chances of booking future Art to Grow visits.       


Lessons are grade specific and will give students the opportunity to use age appropriate tools and techniques. The lessons are inspired by our current exhibitions and collections. All lessons adhere to the Common Core Standards. The following lessons are for Pre-K through 8th Grade and are available throughout the school year. They are adapted to suit your grade level.   


The Permanent Collection 

Objective: Students will be inspired by a work of art from the Dixon’s permanent collection, and then they will learn about the artist, investigate different techniques, and produce their own masterpiece. The Dixon’s permanent collection has over 2,000 works of art. This includes works on paper, sculptures, decorative arts objects, and works by Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The collection features artists such as Monet, Matisse, Degas, Renoir, and more!         

View the Permanent Collection lesson plan here.


The Living Collection 

Objective: Students will explore an element of the gardens and work with exciting art materials to create an original piece. Students will learn about specific types of trees, plants, or animals living in the Dixon gardens. They will look at the effect of the changing seasons, wildlife, habitats, and the importance and impact plants have on the environment. The Dixon Gallery & Gardens is a certified Level IV (four) arboretum with more than 120 identified species of trees. 

View the Living Collection lesson plan here. 


Special Exhibitions 

Objective: Students will be inspired by a work of art or a group of artworks in one of the Dixon’s temporary exhibitions. Students will learn about artists and their biographies in the grander scale of art history. Students will also learn the difference between a permanent and temporary collection in a museum setting. Using the special exhibition as inspiration, students will create art of their own with similar techniques and processes. This lesson changes seasonally depending on the exhibitions the Dixon is currently hosting. 

Lesson plans for Special Exhibitons: 

Eye to Eye: A New Look at the Dixon Collection


How to Book Art to Grow

Please fill out the form to the right or contact Christan Allen, Outreach Coordinator, at 901-312-1263 or

Please click here to schedule a field trip to the Dixon. 



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Monday Closed
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
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Third Thursdays: Open until 8pm
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