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Group Visits Suspended Until Further Notice

Due to precautions related to COVID-19, all group visits are suspended until further notice. View virtual lessons for K–12 school groups >>

4–12 Collection Tours

Museum tours are designed as interactive lessons that encourage students to examine objects and ideas through a variety of activities including discussions, worksheets, and small-group work. Observation, critical thinking, problem solving, and literacy skills are incorporated in all lessons. These programs take place in the Museum’s permanent galleries. Lessons are 1 1/2 hours long except where noted. Expect to visit approximately four to six galleries during your tour.

All tours are appropriate for grades 4–12 (except where noted).

Standards Alignment for School Tours >>

Introductory Lessons

These lessons are ideal for a first visit or for a general introduction to broad aspects of the collection.

  • Learning to Look

    How can we learn to see more when we look at art? This lesson leads students to become better observers of both art and the world around them through looking, describing, imagining, and responding. Drawing and writing activities are adapted for students’ grade level.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Around the World (grades 4–6)

    What can art tell us about different times and cultures? Students compare works of art and architecture to discover the common threads and unique qualities of a variety of cultures. Grades 4–6 will complete their own around-the-world travelogue.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Treasures of the Museum

    The Museum is filled with world-renowned works of art, from ancient Chinese tomb figures to knights in armor to worksby modern masters. This lesson invites students to explore a selection of masterpieces in the collection and introduces ways of examining and interpreting works of art from many times and places.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Art Investigation

    Exploring works of art naturally engages our inquiring minds and encourages critical thinking. In this lesson, students practice making meaning through close looking, analyzing visual evidence, making inferences, and examining different perspectives.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Painters and Paintings

    Why do painters make the choices they do? How do they create their illusions or abstractions? This lesson explores changing styles in painting and our reactions to them. If you are studying specific artists, please let us know and we will try to include them.
  • Introduction to Sculpture

    What is Sculpture? What artistic choices must sculptors make? This lesson introduces the methods and materials of three-dimensional art from around the world.
  • Introduction to Architecture

    What is architecture? This lesson focuses on the Museum’s outstanding collection of period rooms and architectural elements from around the world. Beginning with the Museum’s main building itself, students explore different styles, materials building methods, and functions of architecture.

Subject-Area Lessons

These lessons are designed to relate to classroom studies. If you do not see a lesson that connects with your studies, we can work with you to design a lesson that supports your curriculum.

  • American Art: From Colony to Nation

    What was art like in George Washington’s day? Students examine furniture and paintings, discuss styles and techniques, and explore what art can tell us about life in the colonial and federal periods.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Survey of American Art

    What are the important themes in American art? How are changes in American society reflected in its art? This lesson surveys the art in the American collections from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.
  • Greek and Roman Mythology in Art

    Beginning with the Museum building, students explore how artists have interpreted the ideas and mythology of the classical world.
  • Medieval Art

    What can the architecture, sculpture, textiles, and armor of medieval Europe tell us about life in the Middle Ages? This lesson explores stylistic changes in medieval art and how they reveal an evolving society.
  • Arms and Armor

    Who used arms and armor? How were they made? This exploration of Renaissance armor includes the handling of some pieces.
  • Art of the Renaissance

    How did art of the Renaissance reflect ideas of that time? Students examine art from Italy and northern Europe to learn more about the art and beliefs of the day.
  • Medieval and Renaissance Art

    A combination of two lessons, Medieval Art and Art of the Renaissance, this offering is designed for classes studying both periods of European history.
  • Renaissance to Modern

    This lesson provides a chronological look at European artistic styles from the Renaissance to today. Students consider the strengths and challenges of each period, and evaluate their reactions to each style.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • The Impressionist Era

    What made the art of the Impressionists so different? This lesson introduces students to work by notable nineteenth-century artists and may include Monet, Degas, Cassatt, Renoir, Cézanne, van Gogh, or others,and places them within the context of their time.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Modern and Contemporary Art

    What is modern art and what makes it look the way it does? This lesson explores changing styles and ideas in European and American art from Impressionism to Cubism to the art of today.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Islamic Art (1 hour)

    How does Islamic art reflect the ideas of Islamic culture? Examine rugs, tiles, architecture, and other objects from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia to learn about Islamic art, beliefs, and cross-cultural influences.
  • Art of Asia

    Students examine and compare the art of several Asian countries including China, Korea, and Japan, among others. Classes can take a general tour of Asian art or focus on a specific country.
  • Treasures of French, German, or Spanish Art (grades 9–12) (1 hour)

    Students studying French, German, or Spanish learn about that culture’s art. Tours range from medieval religious objects to contemporary paintings and sculptures.
  • The Mixed-Up Files (grades 4–8)

    In this companion lesson to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, students learn about the Museum and its collections as they explore popular galleries and mysterious objects. Students should have some familiarity with the book prior to their lesson.
  • STEAM at the Museum

    How is being an artist like being a scientist or a mathematician? In this lesson, students practice core STEAM skills, learning directly from the objects about how artists create innovative solutions to complex problems.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Art and Language Arts

    During this lesson, students uncover the “stories” told by works of art as they experiment with the different tools that writers and artists use to make an engaging work. Activities encourage careful observation, analysis, and discussion, and include creative, persuasive, and descriptive writing and poetry. This lesson can be adapted for English-language learners.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Art Speaks, a Target® Field Trip (for 4th-graders in Philadelphia public schools only)

    Designed to help fourth-grade students practice literacy skills while exploring art at the Museum and in the classroom. During the Museum lesson, students use a variety of language-arts skills (such as comparing, describing, interpreting, and expressing opinions) as they share their observations and ideas about works of art.

    Each class receives: a teaching booklet with literacy-based pre- and post-visit activities; image cards to use in the classroom; and a flash drive with printable worksheets and a classroom presentation of the images with looking questions. Before your visit, a Museum educator will come to your classroom to introduce students to Art Speaks and the Museum.

    Thanks to generous funding, Art Speaks Museum admission and busing are free this school year.

    ​Art Speaks is made possible by the Victory Foundation, Target, The Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter, III Family Foundation, Lincoln Financial Group, and TD Charitable Foundation. Credits as of August 28, 2017
  • HERstory

    This lesson will explore women as artists and women as subjects. By analyzing works of art, students will learn about the changing roles and perspectives of women in society.
    Pre-Visit Guide
  • Clothing, Costume, and Culture

    Costumes, uniforms, waistcoats, gowns . . . clothing reflects the tastes, status, occupations, roles in a story, and time period of the person wearing them. Students will explore clothing and costume in historical and cultural contexts, and see how they influence the interpretation of a work of art.
  • Multiple-Visit Programs (grades K–12)

    The more you visit, the more you learn! These lessons offer an opportunity to explore classroom curriculum and the Museum’s collection in greater depth. You and a Museum teacher work together to create a two-, three-, or four-visit program that connects to your curriculum. Your class works with the same Museum teacher each visit. Students pay regular school admission fees for each visit.
  • Artists and the Natural World

    During this lesson, students look at works of art from several time periods and places, and explore ways that artists have been inspired by, recorded, and incorporated elements of the natural world in their art. Students have a chance to respond to nature themselves through writing and drawing activities.
  • Pennsylvania Artists

    What do Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Eakins, Horace Pippin, and Alexander Calder have in common? They are all artists who called Pennsylvania their home. This lesson introduces artists who were born or worked in Pennsylvania from colonial times to today.
  • The Artist and Society (grades 9-12)

    What does art reflect about the time in which it was created? Students examine how artists have chronicled, commented upon, and critiqued their societies.
  • Drawing and Discovery (grades 5-12)

    How does drawing aid our understanding of art? Students explore sculpture, architecture, and decorative arts through drawing activities and discussions led by a Museum teacher/artist. Let us know if you are studying a particular drawing technique, style, or period.


For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at 215-684-7580 or by e-mail at .