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School Tours

Field Trips and Self-Guided Tours

Photos of Clarice Smith Institute activities

Sally Hoffmann leads a discussion of Richard Norris Brooke's A Dog Swap.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, docent-led tours yield lively exchanges about our collections as windows on American history. The Renwick Gallery helps students glimpse through craft America's boundless creative spirit and offers them an opportunity to handle examples of contemporary objects and discuss process, material, and technique.


By focusing on a few key artworks, we help integrate your visit with students' core classwork and standards of learning. Docents use teaching techniques of inquiry, guided looking, comparison, and hands-on learning. Pre-and post-visit materials are available.


American Art

Renwick Gallery

Optional Activities

Photo of educator, Sarah Mellace, with students in the Renwick Grand Salon. Students are participating in the 'Art a la Cart' program.

Students learn in the galleries using the Art à la Cart program.

Support your visit with optional activities that emphasize experiential learning. Consult with the Smithsonian American Art Museum's education department tour scheduler when you book a tour to determine if the following activities are offered for your visit.

Learning Lab and Art à la Cart

In our Learning Lab and through the Art à la Cart program, students extend their gallery visits by exploring primary resources, hands-on activities, animated gallery games, and directed writing exercises.

Luce Foundation Center

The Luce Foundation Center for American Art is a visible storage facility that displays around 3,400 objects from the Museum's collection in glass cases and drawers. Students can explore the aisles, look up objects on the interactive kiosks, or even create a virtual collection that they can access from home.

Lunder Conservation Center

In the Lunder Conservation Center, students observe artwork being preserved. This is the first art conservation facility that allows the public permanent behind-the-scenes access to the preservation work of the museum.

Self-Guided Tours

With a self-guided visit, you are free to explore the collection in a way that best suits your class. In general, for students in kindergarten through second grade, we suggest that you concentrate on a few objects. For older students, we recommend one hour of focused looking and thirty minutes of discussion about the artworks. Teachers are invited to consult with the Smithsonian American Art Museum staff regarding content for self-guided tours. Contact us via telephone at (202) 633-8531 or email You can also submit your questions using our School/Group Registration Form.

Self-guided tours do not require reservations, though they must comply with our policies and guidelines outlined in Planning Your Visit.