BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — The award from the National Endowment for the Arts will fund a program aiming to instill a love of the arts in Bridgeport students.

The Housatonic Museum of Art (HMA)’s $15,000 Art Works award will support its HMA Peer Docent Program. The 15-year-old program pairs about 90 middle school students across Bridgeport up with museum educators. Their partnership teaches the students about art and architecture, its history, and how to look at pieces critically. In the process, educators also teach the students how to guide their classmates on tours, sharing those skills. Museum officials explain that those skills – while honed in an arts context – will help them across fields throughout their lifetimes.

The HMA Peer Docent Program has enlisted several organizations, artists, and architects to broaden students’ horizons. The Executive Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art, Robbin Zella, said that the focus over the last three years has been on local architecture. Students have gone on field trips to study the architecture in New Canaan and in New York City. The museum will partner up with the Westport Library, where students will be able to create their own designs and make “them come to life with 3-D printing.” Additionally, award-winning architect Thom Mayne, who is a Waterbury native, will work with some of the Peer Docent students from the Hall School in Bridgeport.

The National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” award focuses on programs that encourage a lifelong love and appreciation of the arts. NEA Chairman Jane Chu said about the HMA Peer Docent Program, “Supporting projects like the one from the Housatonic Museum of Art offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”