Bookable session: What makes a portrait? Do people make portraits everywhere? How do we represent ourselves?
Format of the session

This is available as a museum-teacher led onsite session:

Onsite session

  • suitable for KS1 or KS2
  • scheduled for up to 2 hours
  • available for up to two classes
  • one hour is taught, one hour is self-led, if there are two classes, the groups then swap
  • self-led guidance will be available
  • access to our lunch room to store bags and eat lunch

‘I really liked looking at the paintings, and I now look at art in a different way. The Museum teacher made it very easy to understand and it was so fun!’ – KS2 pupil

Aims of the session
  • To develop children’s ability to look closely at objects
  • To encourage children to make deductions based on what they observe
  • To introduce children to the language used when talking about art
  • To encourage children to communicate with clarity and consideration about many different types of people
Content of the session
  • Look closely at a “traditional” European portrait together and learn about its key features
    • Learn how to read key symbols in a portrait or artwork of a person
  • Use this schematic to look at an abstract contemporary portrait together and understand expression and interpretation
  • Look at a sculpture of a person that is not a portrait. What makes a portrait?
  • Children respond creatively with drawing, movement or modelling throughout the session
Primary curriculum links


  • use drawing and/or sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination.
  • learn about a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines, and making
    links to their own work.

This session also complements the citizenship curriculum, including:

  • that people belong to various groups and communities, such as family and school
  • identifying and respecting the differences and similarities between people
  • to improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials [for example, pencil, charcoal, paint, clay]
  • learn about great artists, architects and designers in history.

This session also complements the citizenship curriculum, including:

  • reflecting on spiritual, moral, social, and cultural issues, using imagination to understand other people’s experiences
  • appreciating the range of national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom
  • thinking about the lives of people living in other places and times, and people with different values and customs
  • understanding stereotypes
  • observing that differences and similarities between people arise from a number of factors, including cultural, ethnic, racial and religious diversity, gender and disability.
Resources for use before or after your visit


Spring 2024 bookings are now open, to request a booking please complete and submit this google form

To discuss your needs, email



Access and special educational needs

We are happy to discuss the content of the session and any other details that may be useful in helping your students make the most of their visit.

We have a bag of sensory and fidget toys available to borrow for sessions.

We can also print raised line drawings related to a session with a week or more’s notice, and may be able to arrange for a second museum teacher to attend the session who is trained in audio description.

We have travel bursaries available for schools who would otherwise not be able to visit. Information is available when booking.

We find it helpful to receive all feedback, but are especially keen to improve access to our sessions and offer. Please let us know if we can improve yours, or others’ sessions.