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School and Youth Group Options

Types of School/Youth Group Visits

1. Guided Tours

Guided Tours are student-centered, interactive learning experiences. Gallery Instructors offer guided learning experiences through interactive, object-based discussions in the galleries using art from across cultures and time periods. The tours are designed to engage, inspire and enrich the lives of diverse school group audiences, grades K–12. Each hour-long tour includes 7 to 10 objects from the MFA’s encyclopedic collection.

All MFA Guided Tours support the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and Common Core State Standards.

Guided tours are available Oct 6, 2014–Jun 11, 2015, Monday–Friday, with start times every 15-minutes between 9:30AM-2PM, except as noted.

2. What Artists Do 

This two-part program combines a guided tour with a related art-making activity. The first hour is a guided tour of your choice, led by a gallery instructor. The second hour encourages students to reflect on what they saw in the galleries and make their own work of art to take home.

The activities are listed with the tour descriptions below.

All MFA Guided Tours support the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and Common Core State Standards. 

3. Self-Guided Visits

Groups are invited to come explore the Museum on their own. These visits are offered year-round.

Available during the school year, Monday-Thursday starting at 11AM and Fridays starting at 10AM.

Request a Self-guided visit

Offered Year-round (Grades 2–12)

The Museum offers a range of tour options for your school group. Explore below and choose the one that's right for you. To make a request, simply follow the link to our online request form at the bottom of the tour descriptions. We look forward to welcoming you to the MFA.

Highlights of the Art of the Americas 

Summer Hours (through Oct 3, 2014)

Mon–Fri, 10 am to 2 pm every 15 min.

School Year Hours (Oct 6, 2014–Jun 11, 2015)

Mon–Thu 11 am–2 pm every 15 min.
Fri 10 am–2 pm every 15 min; subject to guide availability

The Highlights tour offers an overview of the art of North, Central and South America in the museum’s American 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 will look closely at a selection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and artifacts in the new wing 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 tour

Discovering the MFA

Summer Hours (through Oct 3, 2014)

Mon–Fri, 10 am to 2 pm every 15 min.

School Year Hours (Oct 6, 2014–Jun 11, 2015)

Mon–Thu 10 am; 11 am–2 pm every 15 min.
Fri 10 am–2 pm every 15 min., subject to guide availability

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 mediums 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

Highlights of the Ancient World: Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean 

Summer Hours (through Oct 3, 2014)

Mon–Fri, 10 am to 2 pm every 15 min.

School Year Hours (Oct 6, 2014–Jun 11, 2015)

Mon–Thu 11 am–2 pm every 15 min.
Fri 10 am–2 pm every 15 min; subject to guide availability

This tour offers an overview of the MFA's Art of the Ancient World collection, including works from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Students will look closely at artifacts from various ancient cultures, including sculpture, metals, and ceramics. This tour is recommended for all ages.

(Links to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks HSS 7.7 – 7.43, Foreign Language Cultures Strand)

What Artists Do Option
Create your own clay vessel inspired by the Mesopotamian or Mediterranean cultures.

Request a Highlights tour

Self-Guided Visits

Groups are invited to come explore the Museum on their own. These visits are offered year-round.

Available during the school year, Mon-Thu starting at 11am and Fri starting at 10am.

Request a Self-guided visit

Offered Oct 6, 2014, through Jun 11, 2015 (Grades K-2)

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

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

Mon, Fri 10:15 am

Dive into the narratives and worlds of art from around the globe. On these one-hour guided adventures, early learners (K-2) will be 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

OFFERED Oct 6, 2014 through Jun 11, 2015 (grades 2–12)

Art of the Ancient World 

Art of Ancient Egypt

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 will introduce students to this remarkable ancient civilization. Students will 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. Create in clay a favorite object you would bring to the afterlife.

Art of Ancient Greece and Rome

9:30 (early entry), 10:30 am

From the dramatic doings of the gods on Mount Olympus to the everyday realities of mere mortals, the Art of Ancient Greece and Rome tour will explore this pivotal moment in human civilization. Students on this tour will develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the classical world by exploring a wide range of objects from Ancient Greece and Rome. This tour is recommended for students of all ages who have been studying Ancient Greece and Rome (including mythology).

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: HSS 7.24 – 7.43, Foreign Languages Cultures Strand)

What Artists Do Option
Create your own clay bust portrait, mythological heroes, gods and goddesses, or creatures inspired by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Highlights of the Ancient World: Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean

9:30 (early entry), 10:30 am

This tour offers an overview of the MFA's art of the Ancient World collection, including works from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Students will look closely at artifacts from various ancient cultures, including sculpture, metals, and ceramics. This tour is recommended for all ages.

(Links to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks HSS 7.7 – 7.43, Foreign Language Cultures Strand)

What Artists Do Option
Create your own clay vessel inspired by the Mesopotamian or Mediterranean cultures.

Request an Art of the Ancient World tour

Art of the Americas

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

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 will explore the impact of industrialization, westward expansion, the Civil War, immigration, and the American role in international relations. They will see examples of painting, sculpture and decorative arts from that time period that reflect 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. Mix images from print with acrylic paint on canvas to create your own version of the American Identity.

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

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. Build clay objects in the style of Native Americans or the early colonists.

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

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 will visit period rooms from both rural and urban houses and become familiar with everyday objects and artifacts. They will 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, choose what makes your neighborhood unique—a favorite place or activity, neighbors and friends, and then paint your neighborhood’s portrait with acrylics on canvas.

Request an Art of the Americas tour

Art of Asia

Highlights of the Art of Asia

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
Use clay to make a decorative artifact or sculpture giving meaning to the culture, religion, or time period of one of the regions you just explored.

Art of China: Land of Dragons

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 will 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
Build and decorate a room from a Ming Dynasty House. Add a Scholar's Rock or a technological innovation that you would want in your traditional room.

Art of Japan: Temples, Towns and Traditions

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 will 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
Create a Japanese sumi-e (ink brush painting) hanging scroll. Decorate its borders with decorative papers and add dowels at both ends to hang.

Art of the Silk Road

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, make an illustrated map of your travels, including places, objects, cultures, temples, and palaces.

Request an Art of Asia tour

Art of Europe

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

9:45 (early entry), 10:45 am

The Small Kingdoms to Emerging Nations tour will include 12th through 17th century art reflecting how European culture acquired practices and forms rooted in church and state. Students will 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, paint a tempera panel in bright colors and gold paint.

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

9:45 (early entry), 10:45 am

The Enlightenment to Modernism tour will include 18th through mid 20th century art illustrating the emergence of modern Europe through art that reflects this time period. Students will 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
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.

Three Centuries of French Art: Classicism to Cubism

9:45 am (early entry)
The French Art tour will include 17th through 20th century art by covering a number of artistic styles, including but not limited to Classicism, French Rococo, Romanticism, impressionism, post-impressionism, pointillism, and Cubism. Students will 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.

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

10:45 am

The Art of Spain tour will include art from the 12th through the 20th century, and will illustrate 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
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 Europe tour

Contemporary Art

Art Redefined: Contemporary Works, 1955 to the Present

10 am

During the Contemporary tour, students will engage in lively discussion as they experience art from many different cultures in the newly installed Contemporary galleries in the Linde Family Wing. They will see how contemporary artists use unconventional materials, innovative techniques and new technologies. They will also explore how Contemporary art reflects the rapidly changing global world of today and often redefines our ideas of what "art" can be.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Arts Connections Strand Standards 6–10)

Request a Contemporary tour

Photography

Photography: Daguerrotypes to the Digital Age

10 am

The Photography tour highlights photographic art from the 1800s to modern day and focuses on selected works from the MFA’s special exhibitions on photography. Students will explore the photography as an art form and discuss artists in terms of photographic intent, styles and techniques used to express the intent. Using a framework to analyze photography, students will engage in conversations about composition, light and movement in this medium. This tour is recommended for all ages interested in photography and design.

(Link to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Arts Connections Strand Standards 6–10)

Request a Photography tour

Special Exhibitions - "Goya: Order and Disorder"

Goya: Order and Disorder (Oct 20, 2014-Dec 18, 2014)

9:45 am

A major exhibition of Spanish master Francisco Goya

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

Request a Special Exhibition tour