To request a school group visit:

  1. Choose a Self-Guided Visit or your preferred Guided Tour from the list below.
  2. Follow the link at the end of the description to complete the reservation request form. Please complete your reservation request form at least four weeks prior to your preferred dates.
  3. Indicate on your reservation request form if your school is eligible for free admission and if you would like to add art making (What Artists Do) and/or reserve lunch space.

See Choose Your School Group Experience and School Group Visit Admission and Payment for more information.

Explore on Your Own

Self-Guided Visits

Teachers are invited to visit the MFA with their class for a self-directed experience. Students explore the galleries at their own pace with chaperones and can complete prepared assignments. Download and print the MFA’s self-guided visit activities to enrich your students’ visit. Mobile MFA Guides are also available for rent. Please refer to Protecting Visitors and the Artwork for guidelines on gallery capacities and other relevant information for all chaperones.

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

Monday to Thursday, 11 am to closing, every 15 minutes; Friday to Sunday, 10 am to closing, every 15 minutes

Request a self-guided visit

Guided Tours of Special Exhibitions

Matisse in the Studio (Apr 24–Jun 15, 2017)

Tour Availability (Apr 24–Jun 15, 2017)

Mon–Thu 9:45 am

Explore the first major museum exhibition to focus on the importance of Henri Matisse’s personal collection of objects on his creative process. The exhibition showcases Matisse’s paintings, sculptures and works on paper alongside decorative and sculptural objects in his collection. The guided tour brings to life French history and culture while facilitating students’ exploration of the artistic process.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks includes: Arts Connections Strand Standards 6-10; HSS: World History II; Foreign Languages Cultures Strand.)

Request a Special Exhibition tour

Guided Tours across Collections

Discovering the MFA

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

Daily 10 am, 11 am–2 pm, every 15 minutes
Fri 10:15, 10:30, 10:45 am

The Discovering the MFA tour is ideal for first-time visitors or classes interested in a cross-cultural approach to art. Explore a variety of objects from across the Museum’s major collection areas, in different media throughout the ages. Students will look closely and discuss works of art in a fun and engaging way.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Various)

Request a Discovering the MFA tour

Explorations for Early Learners: Discovering the MFA for K–2 Visitors

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

Mon, Fri 10:15 am

Dive into the stories and worlds of art from around the globe. On these one-hour guided adventures, early learners (K–2) are introduced to the exciting world of art, and faces and places that make the Museum.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Various, including English Language Arts RL.1, RL.3, SL.1, SL.3-4)

Request an Early Learners tour

Guided Tours of Art of the Americas

Highlights of the Art of the Americas

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

Mon–Thu 11 am–2 pm, every 15 minutes
Fri 10 am–2 pm, every 15 minutes

The Highlights tour offers an overview of the art of North, Central and South America in the Museum’s Art of the Americas Wing. The collection includes Pre-Columbian and Native American art, as well as the full range of American art from the colonial period through the first half of the 20th century. Students look closely at paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and artifacts to learn how artists use the elements of art to create meaning and how art reflects the time and culture in which it is made. This tour is recommended for all ages.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Various)

Request a Highlights of the Art of the Americas tour

Creating an American Identity: Art from the Early Republic to World War II

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:30 (early entry), 10:30 am

The American Identity tour illustrates the events of the 1800s and early 1900s and how they shaped how Americans perceived themselves. Students explore the impact of industrialization, westward expansion, the Civil War, immigration, and the American role in international relations. They see examples of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the time period that reflects those changes. This tour is recommended for high school classes studying United States history and culture of the 19th and 20th centuries.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS US I, US II)

What Artists Do Option
Our country’s unique identity is comprised of languages, food, fashion, style, art, and music from many cultures. Students mix images from print with acrylic paint on canvas to create their own version of the American Identity.

Request a Creating an American Identity tour

Exploring the New World: Art from the Ancient Americas, Colonial America, and the New Nation

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:45 (early entry), 10:45 am

The New World tour offers a chance to explore the earliest art of the Americas. Portraits, furniture, silver, and gold tell stories about life in the pre-Columbian era, colonial North America, and the new nation. This tour is recommended for students who are interested in the history and culture of the Americas before 1820.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS 5.1–5.2, 5.4, 5.6–5.11, 5.17–5.18)

What Artists Do Option
Native Americans and colonists both used clay to make practical, beautiful vessels to carry water and store food, developing different designs and images for decoration. Students build clay objects in the style of Native Americans or the early colonists.

Request an Exploring the New World tour

Understanding Massachusetts History: The Art and Objects that Illustrate Its Distinctive Past

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:45 (early entry), 10:45 am

The Massachusetts tour provides a window into the American Revolution and daily life in the 17th and 18th centuries. Students visit period rooms from both rural and urban houses and become familiar with everyday objects and artifacts. They see paintings of Revolutionary leaders and the events with which they are associated. This tour is recommended for students who are interested in the history and culture of Massachusetts.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS 3.1-3.7, 3.12)

What Artists Do Option
Neighborhoods are as vibrant and colorful as we are. In this exploration, students choose what makes their neighborhood unique—a favorite place or activity, neighbors and friends, and then paint their neighborhood’s portrait with acrylics on canvas.

Request an Understanding Massachusetts History tour

Guided Tours of Art of the Ancient World

Art of Ancient Egypt

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:30 (early entry), 10:30 am

The MFA’s Egyptian collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The Art of Ancient Egypt tour introduces students to this remarkable ancient civilization. Students explore what the Ancient Egyptians valued and believed by examining depictions of pharaohs, artifacts from daily life, and funerary objects including mummies. This tour is recommended for elementary and middle school classes studying Ancient Egypt.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS 7.7–7.16)

What Artists Do Option
The ancient Egyptians were well prepared for their trip to the afterlife. Students create in clay a favorite object they would bring to the afterlife.

Request an Art of Ancient Egypt tour

Due to renovations in the Art of the Ancient World wing, we will not be offering Art of Ancient Greece and Rome and Highlights of the Art of the Ancient World tours for the rest of the 2016–2017 academic year. We do offer classroom outreach programs on these topics. For more information, see Outreach Programs.

Guided Tours of Art of Asia

Highlights of the Art of Asia

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

10:15 am

Look closely to learn how art reflects the time, culture, and religions in which it was made. This highlights tour offers an overview of the art of Asia: India, China, Korea, and Japan through Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu art, as well as a range of secular objects from as far back as the 13th century BC to the present day.

(Link to MA Curriculum Frameworks: HSS: Gr. 4, Gr. 6; WH I, WHII. Visual Arts: Standards 5, 6, 7, 9, 10.)

What Artists Do Option
Students use clay to make a decorative artifact or sculpture giving meaning to the culture, religion, or time period of one of the regions they just explored.

Request a Highlights of the Art of Asia tour

Art of China: Land of Dragons

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

10:15 am

Explore the MFA’s rich collection of Chinese art, spanning from the Bronze Age to the present day, to learn the role of continuity and tradition in Chinese culture, and how technological innovations, as well as Buddhism influenced art. Students also visit a recreated Ming Dynasty house and courtyard on the tour.

(Link to MA Curriculum Frameworks: HSS: Gr. 4, Gr. 6; WHI.23, WHI.24. Visual Arts: Standards 5, 6, 7, 9, 10. Foreign Language: Standards 4, 6.)

What Artists Do Option
Students build and decorate a room from a Ming Dynasty house. Add a Scholar’s Rock or a technological innovation that they would want in their traditional room.

Request an Art of China tour

Art of Japan: Temples, Towns and Traditions

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

10:15 am

Through thematic topics such as Art of the Temple, Art of the Ruling Class, Art of the Town, and Japan and the Outside World, students discover the art of Japan, including examples of Buddhist sculpture, screens and scrolls, textiles and woodblock prints, and contemporary objects.

(Link to MA Curriculum Frameworks: HSS: Gr. 6; WHI.25, WHI.26, WHI.27, WHI.28; WHII.14. Visual Arts: Standards 5, 6, 7, 9, 10. Foreign Language: Standards 4, 6.)

What Artists Do Option
Students create a Japanese sumi-e (ink brush painting) hanging scroll and decorate its borders with decorative papers and add dowels at both ends to hang.

Request an Art of Japan tour

Art of the Silk Road

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

10:15 am

See how trade transformed cultures, bringing Buddhism to “the east” and Chinese style to “the west,” while examining objects reflecting the wide variety of people, animals, goods, artistic styles, technology, cultures, and religious beliefs of the Silk Road at its zenith in 1500 to 1600 BC.

(Link to MA Curriculum Frameworks: HSS: Gr. 4, Gr. 6, Gr. 7; WHI.4. Visual Arts: Standards 5, 6, 7, 9, 10.)

What Artists Do Option
With mixed media and collage, students make an illustrated map of their travels, including places, objects, cultures, temples, and palaces.

Request an Art of the Silk Road tour

Guided Tours of the Art of Europe

Small Kingdoms to Emerging Nations: Art of Europe from 1100 to 1700

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:45 (early entry), 10:45 am

The Small Kingdoms to Emerging Nations tour includes 12th through 17th century art reflecting how European culture acquired practices and forms rooted in church and state. Students look at and talk about paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from this time period such as princely portraits, luxury goods, monks, and stories from mythology.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS World History I)

What Artists Do Option
Inspired by 12th-century paintings, students paint a tempera panel in bright colors and gold paint.

Request a Small Kingdoms to Emerging Nations tour

The Enlightenment to Modernism: The Art of Europe from 1700 to the mid 1900s

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:45 (early entry), 10:45 am

The Enlightenment to Modernism tour includes 18th through mid 20th century art illustrating the emergence of modern Europe through art that reflects this time period. Students look at and talk about sculpture, decorative arts, and paintings—including the MFA’s unparalleled Impressionist collection.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS World History II)

What Artists Do Option
Students look at 18th-century sculpture, then build a clay bust of a current important figure in the manner of 18th century busts, create a self-portrait, or a bust of a friend.

Request an Enlightenment to Modernism tour

Three Centuries of French Art: Classicism to Cubism

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

9:45 am (early entry)

The French Art tour includes 17th through 20th century art, covering a number of artistic styles, including but not limited to Classicism, French Rococo, Romanticism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, and Cubism. Students discuss socio-political factors and the influence of other cultures on French art. This is an English language tour.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS World History I, World History II, Foreign Languages Cultures Strand)

What Artists Do Option
Original Cubist works serve as inspiration to create Cubist assemblages or paintings.

Request a Three Centuries of French Art tour

The Art of Spain from Medieval to Modern: Patrons, Princes and Picasso

School Year Tour Availability (Oct 13, 2016–Jun 15, 2017)

10:45 am

The Art of Spain tour includes art from the 12th through the 20th century, and illustrates Spain’s influence on the art of other cultures. Students will look at decorative arts, sculpture, and paintings spanning this time period and discuss how state religion, patriotism, and cultural practices are depicted by master artists. This is an English language tour.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS World History I, World History II, Foreign Languages Cultures Strand)

What Artists Do Option
Students view paintings of European monarchs and religious figures, then create a royal self-portrait—as a king, a princess, or even an austere monk.

Request an Art of Spain tour

Hands-On Art Making

What Artists Do

This two-part program combines a guided tour with a related art-making activity. The first hour is a guided tour you select, led by a Gallery Instructor. In the second hour, a Studio Art Instructor encourages students to reflect on what they saw in the galleries and make their own work of art to take home. Activities are designed to help students better understand the creative process and include working with clay, painting on canvas, collage, or ink brush painting.

In the tour descriptions above, tours with a What Artists Do option list the related activity. To request a reservation for a What Artists Do program:

  1. Select your tour.
  2. Click on Request a Reservation at the end of the description.
  3. Choose the What Artists Do component for an additional $8 per student. Note: this cost is not covered by the MFA’s waived admission programs.