We will present a research project that explores arts education practices in Norwegian and Swedish schools . Our presentation will especially focus upon the research design, research methods, and some very preliminary results. This study is an ethnographic double case study, meaning that two cases are studied in-depth. The cases, strategically selected, are one primary school in Norway (years 1-7) and one in Sweden (years F-6) that are well known for their arts education. Methods used are observation, interviews, and informal conversations with teachers, pupils, and school leaders, performed during the school year 2013-2014. The focus has been on activities within the arts subjects, but also other activities such as everyday school life, staff and team meetings, pupils’ musicals and voluntary rock bands, community-directed activities, etc. have been observed. Our research questions are: • How is arts education carried out in the selected schools? • How do the actors perceive the arts education practices in their schools? • How are arts education practices articulated and legitimated among different actors and in different contexts? As the project is practice-based and empirical oriented, it is not based on specific theoretical foundations. We will draw upon various literature and earlier research on arts education, aesthetic experience, children’s culture, agency and empowerment, school development, and curriculum research. In our opinion, it is crucial to describe and discuss educational practices that take the arts seriously. Such practices can demonstrate possible spaces for the arts and aesthetic experience and communication in schools, and thereby also contribute to improvement of teacher education in the arts. In this study, the actors’ perspectives on and experiences with the arts is essential, so is the interaction between pupils, teachers, and materials. However, arts learning and teaching are not isolated happenings. One must look beyond the specific situations and also consider the context that such practices occur within, for instance historical conditions and traditions within the arts, as well as constraints, possibilities and limitations within the school context. Arts education practices must therefore be studied at close range, in context, and it must include the perspectives of multiple actors.