School & Youth Tours

Pictured: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, <i>Indian, Indio, Indigenous</i>, 1992; Photo credit: Kevin Allen
Our free, age-appropriate tours provide fun, inquiry-based experiences for early learners and students in elementary and secondary grades.

To request a guided tour, review the information on this page and then complete a School & Youth Group Tour Request Form. If you are unable to complete this online form, please email with your desired dates, number of students and chaperones, thematic tour preference, and contact information. For self-guided groups of ten or more, contact To request a virtual learning experience, email

Guided Tours for School and Youth Groups

Photo credit: Mara Kurlandsky, NMWA

Available Times and Reservation Policies

Please keep in mind:

  • Tours are available Tuesday to Sunday at 10 am and 1 pm.
  • Tours last approximately 60 minutes and are typically available for a maximum of 30 students; however, we can accommodate more in certain circumstances. Check out our thematic tour descriptions for specific information about capacity and duration.
  • All guided tours require reservations and must be scheduled at least four weeks in advance by submitting a request form.

Chaperone Requirements for Guided Tours

  • Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten: One chaperone per three students.
  • Grades 1 to 12: One chaperone per ten students.

Chaperones are admitted free.

Please indicate content requests, such as incorporating curricular connections, or accessibility services on the request form or by emailing

Photo credit: Kevin Allen

Thematic Tours

NMWA’s curriculum-aligned thematic tours will strengthen students’ visual literacy skills and vocabulary, and cultivate their observational and evidence-based thinking.

Note that guided thematic tours do not provide an overview of the museum’s entire collection.

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students (ages 3 to 6) will get their bodies moving, minds thinking, hands making, and mouths talking about works of art during these interactive tours. On these gallery adventures, students learn about the National Museum of Women in the Arts, practice museum manners, and discover artworks and art concepts through developmentally appropriate discussions, a themed story, and hands-on activities.

Tours last approximately 60 minutes and are limited to 20 students. All materials are provided.

Choose from these offerings:

  • Animal Adventure: Students discover how and why artists depict animals in art. They explore the collection galleries to see a variety of animals, listen to a story about animal behavior, touch themed props, and imagine themselves as animals through sounds and movements. Finally, they create a multimedia collage inspired by their favorite animal.
  • Color-Full Fun: Students become “Color Detectives,” looking closely at artworks to discover the colors of the rainbow. After listening to a story and discussing two artworks, students explore art materials and make their own colorful creations. This tour introduces students to the ways in which artists use color to represent the natural world and to express emotion. Students learn the difference between primary and secondary colors and between warm and cool shades. They practice color mixing as they create their own artwork.
  • Portrait Party: Students learn about people in art through a story and compare two portraits. Through posing, students step into the shoes of portrait subjects and discover how body language and facial expressions communicate feelings. They discover what artists teach us about sitters through their use of symbols, posture, color, and texture. Students sketch their own self-portraits, adding color and texture through collage to complete their artwork.
  • Spotting Shapes and Looking for Lines: Students discover and identify shapes and lines galore. They use their eyes, bodies, and creativity to observe and express these basic elements of art. Students learn the difference between two- and three-dimensional artworks and between geometric and organic forms. Students create three-dimensional multimedia artworks that reflect their understanding of lines and shapes.

Awaken your students’ interest in and understanding of visual arts and social sciences through an interactive, multi-sensory tour featuring four to five works in the museum’s collection. Through open-ended inquiry, discussions, and hands-on experiences, this tour ignites students’ multiple intelligences.

Come to Your Senses tours last approximately 60 minutes and are limited to 30 students. All materials are provided.

Using Harvard Project Zero’s Thinking Routines, students learn about artists by looking closely at several developmentally-appropriate artworks, contributing respectfully to open-ended discussions, posing questions, sharing their opinions, and making connections between visual art and their world. These experiences engage students’ observation and inference skills, improve vocabulary, foster social-emotional learning capacities, and introduce various artistic techniques and media.

While based on the DCPS Visual Arts units for the DC Collaborative’s “Arts and Humanities for Every Student” (AHFES) initiative, this tour is suitable and open to all interested schools/districts. D.C. and D.C. public charter schools interested should request a Thinking Routine Thursday experience through the DC Collaborative. If NMWA’s AHFES tours are unavailable, request through our tour form. Other schools should request by completing our tour form.

See, Think, Wonder tours last approximately 60 minutes and are limited to 30 students. All materials are provided.

Choose from these offerings:

  • Art and Advocacy (Grades 3 to 5)
  • Make a Wish (Grades 3 to 5)
  • Powerful Beyond Measure (Grades 3 to 5)
  • Everyday D.C. (Grades 6 to 8)
  • Language of Layering (Grades 9 to 12)

Students step into the role of art critic in this engaging tour that centers on a select group of artworks in the collection. Participants actively describe, interpret, and evaluate works of art on an emotional and aesthetic level through close, extended looking and a series of discussions.

You Be the Critic tours last approximately 60 minutes and are limited to 30 students. All materials are provided.

Students use art as inspiration for their own creative writing. Combining group discussions of three works of art: portrait, landscape, and narrative, with individual and collaborative writing activities, this tour fosters students’ visual literacy and language skills.

Seeing Through Writing tours last approximately 90 minutes and are limited to 20 students. All materials are provided.

Photo credit: Cameron Robinson

Self-guided Visits for School and Youth Groups

Photo credit: Kevin Allen

Chaperone Requirements for Self-guided Groups

  • Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten: One chaperone per three students
  • Grades 1 to 12: One chaperone per 10 students, if group remains together
  • Grades 1 to 12: One chaperone per five students, if students will do independent or small-group activities.

Chaperones are admitted free.

Photo credit: Mara Kurlandsky, NMWA