School and Teacher Programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum provide opportunities for students to use their skills and knowledge for personal meaning-making in the galleries through careful looking.

Dates and times for tours at the Museum are often reserved quickly. For the best chance of reserving on your desired date and time, please contact the Education Department four weeks in advance.

Our teaching methods use questions to engage students, while also layering context information with students’ observations. Professionally trained Museum Teachers facilitate every guided school group’s experience.

Please contact the Education Department via email at or by calling 617 278 5147 to make a reservation.

Guided Visits

All student groups are strongly encouraged to visit the Gardner Museum on a guided gallery experience. Groups of 10 or more are required to be guided by a Museum Teacher. Guided tours are conducted by professionally trained museum teachers who are specifically assigned to your group. A Museum Teacher will contact you prior to your arrival to discuss the details of your visit.

Museum Teachers provide a general introduction to the museum’s founder and history, and facilitate discussions about approximately five works of art in the museum’s major galleries. Rather than attempting to show students many objects, we emphasize deeper looking and conversations about a few objects during your visit. In addition to rich, dynamic discussions, the Gardner visit also offers opportunities for independent responses through writing and sketching.

Themes for Guided Visits

Tours are organized around a general theme and are designed to be grade-specific. The following themes are suggested. Please choose from one of these when booking your tour, or discuss additional ideas with the Tour Manager.

Suggested themes:

  • Thinking Through Art(grades 3-12)
    Museum Teachers encourage students to observe, talk and think about art through open-ended questions. Rather than lecturing, Museum Teachers empower students to use their critical thinking skills to discover the meaning behind each work of art. This interactive experience employs the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) method.
  • Stories in Art(grades 3-8)
    Discover the varied stories in the collection.
  • People and Places(grades 3-5)
    Encounter memorable characters and settings in works of art.
  • Images of Power(grades 6-12)
    Explore issues of identity, status and power, with a focus on selected portraits.
  • Exploring the Italian Renaissance(grades 6-12)
    Discuss masterpieces by Italian artists and learn about the artistic revolution of the Renaissance in Italy.
  • Spanish Painting(grades 6-12)
    Expand your study of Spanish art and culture by exploring the museum's collection.

Self-Guided Visits

Groups of 10 or fewer may choose to visit the galleries on their own. Due to the small size of the museum's galleries, self-guided groups must be divided into groups of 5 or fewer and each group of students must be accompanied by a chaperone.

Learn more about how to schedule your visit.