The Detroit Institute of Arts says a record 73,239 students visited the museum on field trips last school year.

That’s an increase of almost 6,000 students from the previous year. Of these, about 29,124 were from Wayne County, 19,288 from Oakland County and 13,714 from Macomb County. The DIA provides free bus transportation and admission for residents of those counties, thanks to a tri-county millage passed in 2012.

The museum offers both guided field trips with gallery teachers that utilize hands-on activities, plus non-guided tours paired with online teaching resources. They’re available to pre-K-through 12th grades.

The DIA says that means the field trips have become a more viable option for cash-strapped school districts.

“Students’ exploration of the history and culture found at the museum builds critical thinking skills, which are vital to academic success,” Salvador Salort-Pons, the DIA’s director, said in a statement. “Museum visits spark students’ imaginations, encourage discovery, invite comparisons and connections and challenge students to step outside the familiar to experience a diversity of cultures and perspectives in ways that can’t be found in books, movies or online.”

The DIA is home to more than 60,000 works of art.

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