colourful pastel self-portraits by children inspired by Arthur Shilling


The Orillia Museum of Art & History has proudly delivered integrated visual-art and history programs to schools in Simcoe, Durham, York Region and Trillium Lakelands district school boards for over 15 years. We offer diverse programs that can be delivered at your school or here at the museum.

Our educators are practicing visual artists with experience in delivering exemplary art and history programming aligned with the Ontario Visual Arts Curriculum. We design our programs to meet curriculum expecations for the primary, junior, and intermediate levels and deliver lessons that demonstrate increasingly sophisticated use of materials integrated with grade appropriate curricula. Embedded within each lesson are art and design principles and elements presented with links to language, science and social studies.

OMAH uses artist-quality materials with an introduction to proper approaches and methods, providing students with satisfying and meaningful experiences that build self-esteem, foster curiosity and ignite passion for the creative process and critical thinking. Sound art principles linked with varied curricula produce lessons that support a variety of learning styles. This results in students having a broader recall of content.

All programs can be delivered as an outreach program at your school, or here at the museum for the same low cost. Our in-museum programs include a tour showcasing items from our permanent collection as well as contemporary art exhibitions and interpretive activities. The museum is housed in The Sir Samuel Steele Memorial Building, completed in 1894. The building possesses a rich history as a post office and customs house, police station and now gallery/museum. Architectural features include a working 19th-century clock tower, vaults, and 20th-century jail cells.

Our museum building and collection reflect a rich local history that connects to a broad range of curricula, including civics, commerce and industry, early settlers and immigration, Canadian history, and community.

Mask Making

Mask Making

This adaptable program can be tailored to complement the art and history cirriculum, as it examines ancient civilizations, mythology, medieval society, indigenous cultures, totemic animal depictions and pop-art imagery. In the first session, students will work with plaster guaze to create the mask form as inspired by the curriculum. Painting and embellishments are completed in the second session. Principles of form, volume, composition, colour theory and themes of history and art history are addressed.

Time: Two 100-minute sessions, recommended for Grades 3 to 8+. Cost: $14 per student (includes both sessions)

Printmaking pieces on colourful paper made by students

Creative Printmaking

Using artist-quality materials, students will create a limited-edition series of prints using images drawn from personal interests and activities. Printmaking concepts and principles will be introduced and employed by participants to create a master “plate” and reproductions on colourful paper.

Time: 100 minutes, recommended for Grades 1 to 8+. Cost: $7 per student


Ask Experience Learn in OMAH's Jail Cells


Ask, Experience & Learn

Inaugurated by Grade 6 students at Orchard Park Public School in Orillia, this unique inquiry-based program provides students with exclusive behind-the-scenes access to local and regional history through our archives and collection. Our expert staff, educators and volunteers will customize visits to our collection with over 10,000 artefacts that embody shared legacy of first contact, migration, displacement, immigration, industry, civics and community.
Time: 100 minutes Cost: $7 per student
abstract watercolour painting

Watercolour: Mixed Media and Method

Primaries, secondaries, contrasting and analogous colour will be introduced in combination with geometric and organic shapes in this vibrant mixed-media exercise. Participants will learn fundamental watercolour techniques and approaches and create spontaneous secondary colours while experiencing the scientific reality that oil and water don’t mix.

Time: 100 minutes, recommended for Kindergarten to Grade 8+. Cost: $7 per student.


Landscape painting by Franklin Carmichael

Group of Seven Landscape

Central to our national identity, The Group of Seven artists changed the way Canadians viewed their country and their place within it through expansive compositions and innovative use of colour. Students will use acrylic paint and canvas in a direct media approach emulating techniques employed by members of the group with a focus on Franklin Carmichael, who was raised in Orillia. 

Time: 100 minutes, recommended for Kindergarten to Grade 8+. Cost: $7 per student


Student portrait in the style of Arthur Shilling

Arthur Shilling: Character and Colour

Local artist Arthur Shilling is renowned for his use of intense colour and bold composition to render powerful and emotionally evocative portraits. In this program, students will create a self-portrait in oil pastel by integrating colour theory, non-local colour, proportion and abstraction to render an impressionistic likeness that reveals an inner experience of each participant. Pattern, symbol and the relationship between colour and feelings will be explored while drawing upon a large body of Shilling portraits for inspiration.

Time: 100 minutes, recommended for Kindergarten to Grades 8+. Cost: $7 per student.


Embossed tree sculpture by Elizabeth Wyn Wood

Elizabeth Wyn Wood: Relief Sculpture

This program is inspired by Orillia artist Elizabeth Wyn Wood and focuses on sculpture and visual narrative. Students will learn how to create the illusion of depth in relief sculpture and will model polymer clay to create a monochromatic low-relief landscape incorporating Wood's contemprary approach to depicting the Canadian landscape.

Time: 100 minutes, recommended for Grades 3 to 8+. Cost: $7 per student


Clay sculptures of Egyptian pot and sphynx and Easter Island head

Handbuilding with Clay

Dimensions, form, volume, mass and texture will be explored through a variety of hands-on exercises in this engaging workshop that focuses on process and fundamental approaches to the art of clay. Students will create a series of three-dimensional objects and successively sophisticated clay sculpture using modelling techniques and clay tools. Starting with simple pinch pots and coil vessels and culminating in a modelled and textured clay creature, participants will be introduced to the evolution of this material from craft into art form.

Time: 100 minutes, recommended for Kindergarten to Grade 8+. Cost: $7 per student.


How to Book

Please book your programs at least three weeks in advance by calling or e-mailing the Community and Visitor Engagement Coordinator at:

705 326 2159 x103  or

Program confirmation will be e-mailed at the time of booking.

The Orillia Museum of Art & History works to schedule artists that best suit your program needs.

Cancellations made less than one week prior to a confirmed program are subject to a cancellation charge of 25 per cent of the total program cost. In the event of bus cancellations due to inclement weather, please notify the museum as soon as possible to re-schedule your program.

Materials are prepared based on the number of participants at the time of booking. Please provide one week’s notice for changes to participation numbers.

A minimum booking charge of 18 participants is required to book school programs.

Your support and encouragement is essential to the learning experience. Teachers are required to supervise students in the classroom at all times. OMAH programs require participant numbers be kept to the same maximum levels required for regular classes.


Click here to download our 2017-2018 Education Programs Brochure.