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Reserved tours for schools

The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery are now closed for renovation and will reopen on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Tours of the Freer|Sackler for the 2017–18 school year resume on Monday, October 23.

Group tours are offered at 10:15am, 11:15am, 12:15pm, 1:15pm, and 2:15pm daily, except for Wednesdays and federal holidays.  All tours are subject to availability.  Each tour lasts approximately one hour and is held in the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Tour topics

Exploring the Arts of Asia

Grades K–12
Available starting October 23, 2017
Tour size limit: 45 students
One adult chaperone is required per each group of 10 students.
What can we learn about diverse cultures by looking at the arts of Asia? Take a tour of Asian art to discover cultural values that shape different forms of expression. Examine ancient objects to contemporary masterpieces, from Chinese bronzes, Japanese scrolls, and Korean ceramics to sculpture from India and metalwork from Iran.

Look and Discover

Grades 3–12
Available starting October 23, 2017
Tour size limit: 45 students
One adult chaperone is required per each group of 10 students.
How can we learn to see more when looking at art? Explore the Freer│Sackler galleries and spend time looking closely at artworks derived from various styles and cultural traditions. Consider how the elements of art—line, color, and shape—the principles of design—balance, emphasis, and repetition—and culture affect the message and interpretation of art.

Religious Arts of Asia

Grades 5–12
Available starting October 23, 2017
Tour size limit: 45 students
One adult chaperone is required per each group of 10 students.
How are religious beliefs expressed through works of art? Discuss the common practices, beliefs, and values of the major religious traditions that originated in Asia: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Students learn to identify symbols and designs that communicate values and beliefs in art.

Animals: Divine and Powerful

Grades K–12
Available November 2, 2017–January 15, 2018
Tour times: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:15–11:30 am
Tour size limit: 40 students
One adult chaperone is required per each group of 10 students.
Explore the Freer|Sackler and the National Museum of African Art in one visit! Animals in art serve as spiritual guides, protectors, and healers from ancient civilizations to today. See ancient Egyptian works of art in the special F│S exhibition Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt. Enjoy art from Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere in Healing Arts at the National Museum of African Art.

Perspectives around the World

Grades 6–12
Available starting January 8, 2018
Tour size limit: 45 students
One adult chaperone is required per each group of 10 students.
What can objects from the past tell us about global issues today? Investigate artworks that communicate universal concerns, such as conflict, peace, identity, and migration. Through close looking and reflection activities, students “step inside” works of art to explore perspectives across personal, local, global, and historic contexts.

Stories in Asian Art

Grades K–2
Available starting March 5, 2018
Tour size limit: 24 students
Two adult chaperones are required per each group of 10 students.
Meet clever animals, wishful children, or determined adults in traditional folktales and imaginative stories from Asia. Identify characters and settings and predict events and challenges within the story. Adventures come to life through hands-on objects and activities.

Scheduling a tour

  1. Choose a tour and day that works for your group.
  2. Review the museum guidelines.
  3. Submit a request at least four weeks in advance using the online form.
    • Submitting a form does not guarantee a reservation.
  4. Please review the chaperone requirements carefully for the tour you request. If you are planning to come with more students than the tour size limit, please contact asiatours@si.edu for more information.
  5. If your group is planning to visit in less than four weeks, complete the request form on the self-guided groups page.
  6. Walk-in tours cannot accommodate large self-guided groups.

Things to know

  • Requests are handled on a first-come, first-served basis and depend on availability.
  • Please indicate any special needs as "additional information" on the request form. Subject to availability, we can provide:
    • tours in some foreign languages (please specify)
    • tours for visually impaired visitors
    • sign-language interpreters.
  • Two weeks before your tour, we will email a confirmation with logistical information, including which building your group should enter.
  • Please call the tour scheduler immediately at 202.633.1012 to report cancellations and changes. For weekend cancellations and changes, please call 202.633.2843 or 202.633.2834.
  • A small portion of the Freer|Sackler's vast collection is on view at any given time. We cannot guarantee that a specific object will be on display.
  • For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.
  • Photographs may be taken of the permanent collection but not of loan objects or exhibitions; please be aware of "no photography" signage in the galleries.
  • The Freer│Sackler does not offer facilities for eating. For information on dining locations, go to the Smithson dining page.

Our approach

Our interactive student tours are tailored for a unique learning experience. We aim for students to:

  • Be inspired by works of art
  • Understand commonalities across cultures
  • Appreciate differences between cultures
  • Understand the world through disciplinary and interdisciplinary study

Docents use a variety of techniques in the galleries to encourage:

  • Close looking
  • Describing
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Developing questions
  • Making choices
  • Creating visual, written, and/or kinesthetic responses to artworks
  • Engaging with hands-on objects

Tours support the following Common Core/national standards of learning:

Social Studies National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (National Council for the Social Studies)

K–12 themes:
Time, continuity, and change
People, places, and environments
Global connections

Visual Arts National Standards for Arts Education (Consortium of National Arts Education Associations)

K–12 standards:
Using knowledge of structures and functions
Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

English Language Arts English Language Arts Common Core Standards
K–12 strands:
Speaking and listening

*Tours support these standard strands if writing activities are included in the experience.

Global Competence Framework Educating for Global Competence
K-12 Matrix for the Arts
Students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment
Students use the arts to recognize their own and others’ perspectives
Students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences using art

Resources for educators

Visit our educators' resource page for an overview of events, online guides, and print materials.

Links to Online Resources by Area

Related information

Self-guided groups

While the Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation, you can visit Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan, on view through Sunday, October 29, 2017. Groups of ten or more are requested to register as a self-guided visit using an online form.

Reserved tours for adults and university students

To request a reservation for an adult or university group, here's what you need to know.


For questions about tours that are not answered here, call 202.633.1012 or e-mail asiatours@si.edu.