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Welcome! This Web site describes a year of exciting programming at the Art Institute of Chicago about the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes that extended across Asia, linking powerful civilizations such as Rome and China. The Silk Road is also a metaphor for cultural exchange among people of diverse societies, distant places, and different religions. During the Silk Road Chicago celebration in 2006–07, the Art Institute hosted a series of special exhibitions, performances, and student and teacher programs celebrating the art and music of the Silk Road.

In August of 2006, our year began with a weeklong Silk Road Teacher Institute for 60 Chicago Public School Teachers sponsored by the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation. This program included a special performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and an introduction to the new curriculum guide “Along the Silk Road: People, Interaction, and Cultural Exchange” created by the Stanford Program onInternational and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). Teachers participated in tours and lectures about Chinese art and the Silk Road at the Art Institute and also spent a day at the Field Museum and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. All participating teachers received curriculum materials and bus funds for three fieldtrips to cultural institutions throughout the school year.

In January and February 2007, a three-day teacher program “Traveling the Silk Road: Trade, Art, and Music” extended these themes for teachers from across the Chicago area. This workshop also included sessions at the Art Institute, Field Museum, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In May 2007, our school year came to a close with the Silk Road Curriculum Fair, a celebration at the museum for all the teachers who participated in Silk Road Programs. This fair gave them the opportunity to share the lesson plans and activities they created and to display student work.

The purpose of this Web site is to share lesson plans, resources, and ideas created by teachers with other teachers. Enjoy!


Tankard, c. 1575–1600. Iznik, Turkey. Mary Jane Gunsaulus Collection.