By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of economically disadvantaged Philadelphia students will be able to explore and develop an appreciation for art at the Barnes Foundation, thanks to an endowment gift from a global pharmaceutical giant.

When Glaxo Smith Kline moved into its new, open-plan building without offices at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia, it couldn’t take the company-owned art on the walls with it.  So it sold off the art and created a $500,000 endowment, according to GSK’s North America president, Deirdre Connelly.

“We know that studying the arts helps children succeed and achieve much greater objectives,” she said today.

More than 7,000 schoolkids between kindergarten and 8th grade will be able to take advantage of programs tailored to their age groups.

Developed with input from the Philadelphia School District, the programs use the Barnes’ collection to enrich curriculum subject areas.  Blake Bradford, the Barnes‘ director of education, says they begin with “Pictures and Words” for grades K to 3, asking students to respond in writing to works of art, helping their literacy: “how experiences with art give students the specific vocabulary around observation and expression.”

Fifth and sixth graders in “The Art of Looking” program explore elements of composition — light, line, color, and space — from artistic, scientific, and mathematical perspectives.

The third program, “Crossing Boundaries,” for 7th and 8th graders, is a cross-cultural integration of art appreciation and social studies.