One of the most inspiring and lightbulb-appearing experiences I get to do with my middle school students is take them to a production sculpture studio and a glassblowing studio.
We also visit an art museum, but it is quiet and a little stuffy, and for my students (for some of them it has been their first time in an actual restaurant where you sit at a table) it can be intimidating and cold, even though the staff is friendly.
the production studios help especially with the boys whose fathers have told them art is for sissies, and basically make fun of them for it. Nothing like a plasma cutter and pile of steel to change that attitude. They get to see how many people are involved in the making process, they get to see that there is an artist in charge, sometimes the one physically producing the object, sometimes not. The love the noise and the smell and the heavy equipment. It helps them bridge the conceptual gap between what they learn in class and what they see in the museums.