Spotlight children



Spotlight is an annual program that invites students to make creative responses to one work of art in the museum’s collection. Now in its eighth year, the program engages nearly 5,000 students, educators, and their families in and out of the museum through workshops, tours, and community events.

Over 1,000 students exhibited creative projects at the McNay in 2018, about a quarter of those students contributed to works featured in the first ever Spotlight exhibition (July 12-November 4, 2018). In 2019, all 445 of the Spotlight responses remained at the museum to be displayed in three exhibitions over the course of the 2019-20 school year.

Students study one work of art from the permanent collection and then create something in response. Class visits, museum tours, teacher workshops, and access to learning materials help prepare and inspire students to create an original project in response. The students’ responses are exhibited or performed at the Spotlight Celebration in May.

Major support for Spotlight is provided by Rackspace, Semmes Foundation, Inc., and Texas Commission for the Arts.

Spotlight Resources

Schedule a Class Visit

Prior to beginning your Spotlight project, schedule a classroom visit from a McNay educator. The visit includes in-depth looking at a reproduction of the Spotlight selection and an art historical background of the artist and the work of art. Students learn how to look closely and theorize about the style or content of the work of art supported by visual evidence.

Plan a Free Student Tour

A museum visit is the best way to prepare for Spotlight. On a free student tour, students closely examine the Spotlight selection in person and consider how and why it was made with the help of a museum docent. For more information on how to schedule a student tour, visit our Tours page.

Brainstorm Project Ideas

Spotlight projects can take on many forms and are not limited to art making, with past submissions including painting and sculpture, but also poetry and film. The goal is to respond to the work of art in a creative way. That could be a science experiment, a choreographed dance, or a video game.

Submit Your Project Idea

Once you have developed your Spotlight concept, apply to participate in the Spotlight Celebration by the submission deadline. When available, complete the Spotlight Form by clicking on the buttons at the top or bottom of this page.

Execute Your Idea

Spotlight encourages experimentation. Students learn problem solving skills as they experiment, evaluate the results, and adapt their approach.

Showcase Your Project at Spotlight Celebration

The culmination of this year-long focus is the Spotlight Celebration, where students have a forum to showcase their finished projects and talk about the creative process. Parents, teachers, administrators, and friends are invited to this free celebration.