Reserved docent-led tours are offered at 10:15 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pm, 1:15 pm, and 2:15 pm 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|Sackler.

Watch this brief video of a student tour to learn more.

Tour topics

Exploring the Arts of Asia

Grades K–12
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.

Religious Arts of Asia

Grades 5–12
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.

Perspectives around the World

Grades 6–12
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.

Exploring the Arts of China’s Last Dynasty

Grades 3-12
Tour size limit: 45 students
Tour availability: April 15–June 23, 2019
One adult chaperone is required per each group of 10 students.
Explore the lives of imperial women of the Qing dynasty in the special exhibition Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912. Nearly 150 objects from the Palace Museum in Beijing tell the little-known stories of how these empresses broke stereotypes to exert influence in politics, family life, art, and religion during China’s last dynasty. Imagine life in the Forbidden City by examining clothing, paintings, jewelry, and other items made for, about, or by empresses.


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 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.

Request a tour

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 Smithsonian dining page.

Plan Your Visit guide (pdf)

Our approach

In our tours at the Freer|Sackler, 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

All tours are highly interactive, incorporating a variety of learning opportunities such as:

  • 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:

  • Culture
  • 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:

  • Writing*
  • Speaking and listening
  • Language*

*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.

This post is also available in: 한국어 (Korean)