The theories of cultural reproduction and cultural mobility have largely shaped the study of the effects of cultural capital on academic outcomes. Missing in this debate has been a rigorous examination of how children actually acquire cultural capital when it is not provided by their families. Drawing on data from a large-scale experimental study of schools participating in an art museums educational program, we show that students exposure to a cultural institution has the effect of creating cultural consumers motivated to acquire new cultural capital. We find that the experience has the strongest impact on students from more disadvantaged backgrounds. As such, our analysis reveals important aspects about the nature of cultural capital acquisition. To the extent that the evidence supporting cultural mobility is accurate, it may be because disadvantaged children can be activated to acquire cultural capital, thus compensating for family background characteristics and changing their habitus.