Hudson River Museum
Teacher Curriculum Materials 2016 - 2017
Study the Civil War this Spring!

These sample lesson plans for Grade 4 and Grades 7-8 are for teachers who plan to take a Field Trip to the Museum, join a multi-session Museum-School partnership, or teach the Civil War in their classrooms. Additional lesson plans are available upon request.


Red Grooms Civil War Exhibitions

The Civil War, America’s story, is told by Red Grooms,
who for 50 years has brought city and country life to sculpture and canvas.

3 Exhibitions: What They’re About and On-view Dates

Red Grooms: The Blue and The Gray (through May 7) and Lincoln on the Hudson (through May 14) are visual explorations of the conflict from the one of America’s most important Pop Artists — Red Grooms. The exhibition Who Fought to Save the Union (through April 30) shows pictures of people and events from the Civil War era and the objects they used in daily life.

A Brief Description of the Civil War Exhibitions

Lincoln on the Hudson by Red Grooms
Red Grooms. Lincoln on the Hudson, 2016. Walk-through sculpture
Lincoln on the Hudson is a larger-than-life, walk-through scene of the historic appearance of President-elect Lincoln in Westchester County’s village of Peekskill on the banks of the Hudson. The artist, famous for his immersive environments, created this work that fills 775 square feet of gallery space and stands 17 feet high — a world constructed from foam core, canvas, and bright paint.

Lincoln stands at the back of the train that crossed the country from the Midwest to the East to take him to his 1861 inauguration and is greeted by cheering villagers, mounted soldiers (the Civil War is about to begin), a drummer boy, and a brass band. He thanks New Yorkers for their kind greeting and says… I will say in a single sentence, in regard to the difficulties that lie before me and our beloved country, that if I can only be as generously and unanimously sustained as the demonstrations I have witnessed indicate I shall be, I shall not fail. . . A happy moment in time, it is underscored with the concern that Lincoln expresses. Grooms crowns Lincoln with a very tall high hat, branding him the country’s leader and its hope.



Red Grooms: The Blue and The Gray
 Red Grooms. General Grant, 2010                                                          Stonewall Jackson Two Weeks Before His Death at Chancellorsville, 1996

Forty-six paintings record four years of history. Growing up in the South, close to the battlefields of the epic struggle, Red Grooms turned to its battles and key players to paint large and small-scale works for the exhibition The Blue and The Gray. In oil and graphite, on sliced logs and wood, he records the faces of steely-eyed generals, femme fatale spies, crusading abolitionists, and teenage African American soldiers. Each year Grooms adds another face and another perspective to The Blue and The Gray. In 2016 using paper much like the cloth squares of a quilt, Grooms has assembled a monumental drawing of Sojourner Truth, a female Black activist who joins a panoply of portraits, among them a triptych of Robert E. Lee that shows the embattled general growing grimmer as the flag behind him changes from Confederate red to Union blue.
The Blue and The Gray is based on an exhibition organized by the Tennessee State Museum.


Preview The Blue and The Gray


Who Fought to Save the Union
Winslow Homer. The Army of the Potomac — Sharp-shooter on Picket Duty. Harper’s Weekly, November 15, 1862

Images and objects that show the art and culture of the nation and New York at the time of the Civil War drawn from the Museum’s collection to personalize this conflict. Includes the Museum’s collection of Winslow Homer’s wood engravings of Winslow Homer, the artist/reporter who documented the war for Harper’s Weekly.






3 Ways to Study and Teach Civil War Exhibitions

1. Book a Field Trip

2. Plan a Partnership for multi-visit, informal learning with our educators and teaching artists in your classroom and at the Museum (Call Saralinda Lichtblau at 914.963.4550, x241 or
3. Study the Civil War in your classroom using the sample lesson plans and resources that are provided here.

On a Field Trip or in a Partnership, your students come to the Museum to experience Civil War Tours and Workshops

Museum docents lead inquiry-based tours of The Blue and The Gray and Lincoln on the Hudson, as well as Who Fought to Save the Union. Consider the Civil War from the perspective of Red Grooms, and other artists and photographers, rendered in paintings, sculptures and prints.

Civil War Tours include these themes:

  • Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency
  • Freedom and Unity
  • Documenting the Civil War through Photography and Painting
  • A Soldier’s Life in Camp
  • Women in the War
  • Slavery and Abolition
  • New York’s Contributions to the Civil War
  • African American Experience in Civil War Times

Civil War Workshops. Choose one for your Field Trip to the Museum

  • Create a Civil War Scene inspired by Civil War-era photographs, illustrations, and Pop Artist Red Grooms paintings. Develop your characters, setting, and action into a 3-dimensional stage set.
  • Paint a Civil War Portrait based on historic photographs, just as Red Grooms was inspired by photography for his The Blue and The Gray paintings. 
  • Write a Civil War Story: Imagine you’ve witnessed or participated in a historic Civil War moment, a battle, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation or you’re a soldier in the field. Write about your experience in a letter home, a newspaper article, or an editorial.