School Touring

The workshop materials provided here are intended to be used exclusively for educational, non-commercial purposes. Your respect of and willingness to honor these guidelines make it possible for us to more comprehensively share these resources with you on this website.

Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

Ancient Engineers to Modern Innovations uses artifacts in the Walters Art Museum's collection to introduce middle and high school students to ancient engineering discoveries. Participants will be invited to consider how their museum's art and artifacts can be used as a springboard for discussion of STE(A)M content. A sample of the interactive discussions and activities that students experience on the tour will be provided. Participants will also be offered a model for the strategic development and introduction of a new tour and an approach to making complex content accessible to students. Participants will also learn how the Walters education staff collaborated with the Maryland Science Center and NASA.

Presenters: Carol Doctrow and Sheila Vidmar

Theme Category: Successful Tours for School Groups

Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines IA

In this Breakout Session a set of practical strategies for designing tours to encourage student engagement will be presented and will cover managing groups during transitions and anticipating and responding to challenging behaviors. Presenting docents will demonstrate techniques for supporting positive behaviors using examples from Des Moines Art Center tours. Session participants will be encouraged to share successful strategies for supporting positive behavior. The opportunity to problem-solve challenging situations will be offered to participants. This session will feature tours for pre-school, elementary and secondary students.

Presenters: Deborah Hansen and Sally Case

Theme Category: Successful Tours for School Groups

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Ohio

This breakout session presents activities to help students develop the ability to look closely at and describe an object. Students use descriptive vocabulary to describe an object during the activities on the tour. The activities are designed to meet Common Core Literacy Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Presenters: Ann Strickler and Helen Kirk

Theme Category: Successful Tours for School Groups

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh PA

This presentation tracks Carnegie Museum of Art's progress to incorporate writing and sketching into gallery-based school programs and explains the collaborative process among docents, education staff, and classroom teachers to create program content, train docents and prepare teachers.

Presenter: Hattie Lehman, Co-Presenters: Merle Culley and Joke Slagle

Walters Art Museum, Baltimore MD

Learn about and practice engaging, open-ended, student-centered gallery activities you can use to teach skills addressed in the Common Core English Language Standards, while helping students make personal connections to museum objects.  These skills include communication, critical thinking and evidential reasoning.

Presenter: Jan C. Thorman

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, TN

Docents will present an overview of the Brooks' exciting new Early Childhood Program which provides preschoolers opportunities to explore artworks in a gallery setting while building critical thinking skills.  Ultimately, we hope that these students and their families will use the museum as a resource for life-long learning.

Presenter: Lynda Brockway, Co-Presenters: Brenda Burgess and Glenda Ellis

McNay Art Museum and Texas State University-San Marcos

Distractions that disengage youth on school tours have escalated and are taxing docents' abilities to make museum experiences meaningful for students. A university educator/docent and the Museum's Director of Education will offer insights that will help docents step up their skills for engaging adolescents and youth effectively. They will present a humorous blend of strategies that build docents' confidence in their abilities to overcome these challenging distractions.

Presenters: Dr. Teri Evans-Palmer, Assistant Professor of Art Education and school docent who has researched engaging students with humor and heart; Kate Carey, Education Director and developer of Docent Training Programs

San Jose Museum of Art, California

Are you interested in using technology to improve your presentations and/or better engage your audience, docent peer group, or museum? Docents from Art in the Dark, a digital art appreciation program serving sixth- to twelfth-graders, will share ideas for how to use technology to more effectively connect, collaborate, and inspire. Whether ready to apply these ideas to their own programs, or merely curious about what technology can offer, attendees will leave with practical ideas, tools, and resource documents to meet their own objectives.

Presenters: Toby Fernald, docent (twenty-seven years) and Art in the Dark Chair (spearheaded the program);Tricia Hill, docent (eight years), Art in the Dark Co-chair, and Art in the Dark program developer;Karen Lantz, docent (thirteen years) and Art in the Dark public relations developer


Phoenix Art Museum, AZ

The Student-Directed Visit at Phoenix Art Museum is a result of collaboration among Museum staff, docents, teachers, and students that empowers students to take ownership of their Museum experience. In this session we will explore the motivation for creating this visit format; the skills required; and outcomes for students, teachers, and docents based on evaluations. The methods for docent training and practice and the benefits and challenges of placing docents in a nontraditional role will also be covered.

Presenters: Kathryn Blake, Education Director and Project Manager for the School Program Research/Revision Grant;Ann Wall, docent (thirteen years)


The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco CA

The Asian Art Museum recently rolled out a new brand identity, "Awaken the Past, Inspire the Next." Envisioning a new brand required significant changes to school programs, from scripted tours to flexible visitor-centered guidelines and more interactive techniques for engaging the audience. Docents and museum staff will demonstrate how school programs continuously evolve to meet the needs of students and teachers by using one of the more popular school programs as an example, "Samurai: Real and Imagined." Session attendees will view a video on student participation, see how technology is used in the galleries, and examine a website that provides classroom resources for before and after a museum visit.

Presenters: Jane Dalisay, docent (thirteen years) and former Chair of School Programs (2003–2009);Bob Oaks, docent (six years) and Chair of the Samurai School Program Subcommittee;Susan Lai, docent;Caren Gutierrez, Manager of School and Teacher Programs

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