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Home | Classes and Tours | K-12 Programs | Scheduling and Planning Docent-Led Tours

K-12 Programs: Scheduling and Planning Docent-Led Tours

The docents are essential to one of the fundamental goals of the Museum: education. Docents (from Latin docere "to teach") at the Museum of Art and Archaeology are people who have gone through a year of training in order to present the art and artifacts to visitors in a thoughtful and interpretive way. Our docents are knowledgeable and enthusiastic – without them we would be unable to fulfill the tasks needed to offer the educational tours and events that enhance the Museum’s mission.

Reservations are required for all group tours, even self-led tours. Call the Museum to reserve your tour: 573-882-3591 or send us an email. Make the museum your classroom by scheduling a school tour at the Museum of Art and Archaeology.

Please plan ahead. Groups of 10 or more, whether led by a Museum docent/staff or self-guided by a teacher, must contact the Museum to arrange the visit. Groups without advance reservations cannot be assured that the Museum will be able to accommodate them. Docent-led tours must be reserved at least 2 weeks in advance.

Curriculum Connections

School tours are designed to support the Missouri Grade-Level Expectations. Working within the framework of the Fourth-Grade curriculum for Fine Arts and Social Studies, students participating in the Fourth-Grade Curricular Tour will view works that reflect a diversity of cultures, time, beliefs, and media. The Fourth-Grade Curricular Tour is designed in correlation with the Missouri Grade-Level Expectations.

Types of Tours

Preparing tours for school-age learners requires collaboration among the Associate Museum Educator, Docent, and Educator scheduling the tour. Working within the framework of the school curriculum for art, science, social studies, language arts, and more, students will view works that reflect a diversity of time, cultures, and beliefs. Tours may include pre- or post-visits to the classroom, activities in the classroom or museum, use of Hands–On boxes, and multi-visits to the museum. See Tour Descriptions for the types of tours available. Also see Tour Topic Ideas.

Ingrid giving a school tourGroup Size

Group size is determined by the need to maintain a proper teaching environment in the galleries. A minimum of ten persons is preferred for a docent-led tour; a maximum of 25 persons is recommended. (Preferred – no more than 20 Elementary children in each group, and 15 High School students in each group.) Groups larger than 25 will be assigned a second docent, and groups up to 60 require a third docent. The total number of students in the museum at any time is limited to ensure the best possible educational experience for everyone.

Policy Regarding Maximum Group Size for Tours

These policies affect the maximum number of individuals in a led tour; and do not apply to general building walk-throughs which do not require presentations or a tour leader, and for which the group would not be moving through the building en masse.

  • For university students, whether from MU or other campuses or colleges, acceptable group size is no more than 20-25, with larger groups broken up into a series of smaller groups.  In this case the professor or instructor scheduling the tour will need to decide how to best divide the group.
  • For general adult or secondary school audiences the maximum led group size is 20.  Larger groups should be divided into a series of smaller groups; the teachers or group leaders scheduling the tour are responsible for dividing the group.
  • For elementary school and pre-secondary groups, the maximum group size is 15.  Adult chaperones are required.
  • For preschool groups the maximum group size is 10 pre-school children plus 3 or more adult chaperones.

The Museum welcomes all groups, and has adopted these policies to ensure that all visitors, whether individuals or members of groups, can best engage authentic objects and enjoy the Museum's unique and irreplaceable collections of art and artifacts.

Exceptions to these group limits will only be made by the supervising curator of the gallery involved, at his or her discretion.


Adult chaperones are responsible for the students’ conduct and adherence to the rules for proper behavior in the Museum galleries. Chaperones must remain with their groups at all times. One adult chaperone for every ten students in grades 4 through 12 and one adult chaperone for every six students in grades 3 and under is required. Failure to adequately supervise your students may result in the group being asked to leave the Museum.


Please have your group wear nametags, since engaging visitors in lively conversation is easier when docents can address them by name.

Tour Length

Guided tours are 30 minutes (ages 3-7) to one hour in length, unless otherwise noted.


To avoid cancellations, check your school’s calendar for test dates, holidays, report card pick-up days, special activities, etc., before scheduling your tour. If you must cancel a tour, call 573-882-3591 immediately so that Docents assigned and prepared for your tour may be informed.


Admission to the Museum of Art and Archaeology is free (with some exceptions for special events).


The main entrance to the Museum of Art and Archaeology is on the west side of the building overlooking the Francis Quadrangle. You may also enter the Museum from the east entrance facing Ninth Street. See Visitor Information.


The Museum has limited parking at the east entrance, and spaces are reserved for handicap and volunteer parking only. There is metered parking outside the Museum on and near Ninth Street. For additional parking information, see Visitor Information: Parking.

Bus Parking: Busses may park temporarily just south of the stop sign on Ninth Street outside the Museum. For more options for bus parking, call Bus Parking Information at 573-882-4568.

Classroom Preparation

Prepare your students to look at and discuss works of art at the Museum. See Pre-visit Activities (in Word; in pdf) and Post-visit Activities (in Word; in pdf).

Museum Manners

Please remind your group of Museum Manners:

  1. Walk through the galleries – and look in the direction you are walking;
  2. Keep your voice respectful in volume and tone;
  3. Keep your hands to yourself; touching objects can damage them;
  4. Food and drink are not allowed in the upstairs galleries;
  5. Photography of objects is limited and subject to the approval of the Museum staff;
  6. Use pencils only when writing/drawing;
  7. Backpacks, book bags, and umbrellas are not permitted in the galleries – space is provided near the information desk for storage of these items.
  8. Please use your cell phone outside of the Museum.

Students with Disabilities

When making a reservation, please indicate your need for any specialized information or assistance for your students. The Museum is wheelchair accessible.

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Art Education News


- Scheduling Docent-Led Tours
- Group Size Policy
- Scheduling Self-Led Tours
- Online Exhibitions

- Missouri Art, Artists & Artifacts: A Fourth Grade Social Studies Curricular Tour (Word)   
- Learning to Look Guide (pdf)
- Discussing sensitive subjects with children (Word)
- Addressing nudity in art (Word)
- Pre-Visit Activities (Word) (pdf)
- Post-Visit Activities (Word) (pdf)

Slide Shows

Event Photos
Digging It! Photo Gallery
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Lion King Photo Gallery
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Thank You Notes
Thank you notes to the Museum
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Thank you notes to Betty Brown
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Museum of Art and Archaeology | College of Arts and Science | University of Missouri
1 Pickard Hall | Columbia, MO 65211-1420 | phone: 573-882-3591 | fax: 573-884-4039 | Email the museum
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The Museum is currently closed and moving to Mizzou North. Please continue to check our website for updates and the openings of galleries.