The Northwest Art Project



Since 1960, the JLS’ Northwest Art Collection has toured over 600 schools and numerous community organizations in the greater Seattle area, exposing over 250,000 viewers to original works of art by some of the region’s most prominent artists. The program, akin to a traveling museum, trains JLS Docents and School  Educators to help viewers build creative and critical thinking skills. 

History:  The Northwest Art Project was founded in 1960 by Junior League of Seattle (JLS) member Dee Dickinson, who recognized at the time that there were many children who had never seen an original work of art and had never visited an art museum. Acknowledging the educational void, Dee realized that this gap might be filled by creating a program that would give children opportunities to do creative work of their own through the guidance of trained docents. Beginning with a single piece of art donated in 1960 by local artist Kenneth Callahan, the Northwest Art Collection has now grown to 85 pieces demonstrating the varied and rich production of regional artists.

Thematic Exhibits: The NW Art Collection is divided into 10 thematic exhibits with accompanying curricula that infuses art across a range of disciplines including language arts, social studies, science, and math. Under the guidance of their teachers, adult educators, and/or trained JLS Art Docents, viewers are able to discover outstanding, original art from their region. In viewing, the artistic process is experienced first-hand through guided art lessons across a wide range of media, and viewers make connections to other facets of their lives. Through informal and intimate discussion of the pieces, self-expression and imaginations are explored, and critical thinking skills built. Our participants’ eager participation, thoughtful interpretations, and creative responses reveal the power of original art to spark new and enhanced ways of thinking and seeing the world.

The JLS’s mission includes improving its community in the areas of creative and critical thinking to support children as healthy 21st century learners. Across King County, schools and community organizations show great enthusiasm for bringing the Northwest Art Collection to their facilities, and the Project’s waiting lists continue to grow. By leveraging the JLS’s Northwest Art Project, we are able to increase program capacity and viewership, furthering the Project’s goal of “Inspiring Minds Through Art.”

The Collection is provided to participating schools through the generosity of the Junior League of Seattle.

"Art is so important to helping develop both critical thinking skills and emotional understanding skills. Our school, in the South end of Seattle, serves a diverse population of students, the majority of whom are living in poverty. The Northwest Art Project brings so much more than just the works themselves. The art brings hope, bridges gaps, and broadens understanding." - Steve Marsh, Educator at John Muir Elementary 

To inquire about the NW Art program visiting your school or ask other questions, please write: nwart@jrleagueseattle.org