PMA School Tours
The Portland Museum of Art offers FREE admission for K-12 school tours!
Free School Tours are made possible by the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust.
- Portland Public Schools receive free school tour admission through Culture Club-Portland, a collaborative program between the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland Stage Company, and Portland Ovations. Portland teachers, please follow the tour procedures below to schedule your free Culture Club/PMA School Tour.
Complete the Tour Request Form to begin booking your PMA Free School Tour today! Please note, tours are not confirmed until you have received follow-up communication from the Department of Learning and Interpretation.
Free School Tours at the Portland Museum of Art are interactive, engaging trips for K-12 students centered on the experience of looking at original works of art. Through dynamic conversations and inquiry, as well as sketching and writing activities, students understand the creative process, develop critical thinking skills, and connect art to their own world. Led by experienced docent educators, PMA School Tours inspire learning, connect to the classroom curriculum, and are aligned with the Maine Learning Results. We welcome all school groups and offer a range of programs to meet your students' needs.
How to schedule a PMA school tour at the Portland Museum of Art
1. Choose your theme.
Focus Tours are thematic tours that align with the school curriculum, encourage interactive dialogue and inquiry-based learning, and include sketching and writing activities that connect students with their own creativity. Focus Tours are aligned with the Maine Learning Results.
- Art Safari
Track creatures—wild and tame—on this fun adventure for young children.
- Let's Face It!
Explore how ideas of self, identity, and community are expressed through painted and sculpted portraits.
- A Look Inside the McLellan House
Discover Maine and Portland's past by experiencing the splendor of an 1801 mansion.
- Sculpture All Around
Investigate the materials, techniques, and subjects of three-dimensional and relief sculpture.
- Land, Sea, and Sky
Travel through the Maine landscape on this tour that explores how nature inspires artists.
- It's Elemental
Learn how artists use line, shape, color, form, texture, and space to create works of art.
- Schedule of changing exhibitions.
2. Choose your date and time.
- Guided PMA School Tours are available with THREE weeks advanced notice and can accommodate up to 60 students per tour hour.
- Tours are available Tuesday through Friday, and Monday between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
- Tours for high school groups are also available at noon and 1:00 p.m.
- Please note that unscheduled groups may not be admitted to the museum if their visit conflicts with already-scheduled tours. Admission fees are not waived for unscheduled school groups.
To begin the scheduling process, please complete the Tour Request Form. Please note, tours are not confirmed until you have received follow-up communication from the Department of Learning and Interpretation.
3. Follow these guidelines for a successful visit.
Before your visit:
- Please make sure that your students know and understand the Museum Rules (see below).
- One chaperone for every 10 students is required. We are unable to accommodate more than one adult for every five students.
- Please inform chaperones of their responsibilities before the tour begins and familiarize them with the Museum Rules. Chaperones are required to know their students, keep their groups together, and help maintain discipline. Chaperones should not bring younger children on this visit.
- Please note that the museum does not have space for students to eat.
Getting to the PMA:
- Allow enough time for travel and parking. Early or late arrivals will disrupt other groups and the museum cannot guarantee extended tours to accommodate late arrivals.
- Buses may park for free on West Commercial Street.
On your tour:
- Please have students arrive wearing nametags.
- Please divide students into groups of 10 before arriving at the museum. Students will exit the bus in their groups with their chaperones.
- Molly Braswell, Department of Learning and Interpretation Assistant, will greet your students on the bus and will review the Museum Rules.
- Students will leave jackets and any other materials on the bus (including notebooks and pencils). All materials required for the tour activities will be provided by the museum.
- Guided tours last about one hour. Restroom breaks and visits to the PMA Store will impact the length of your guided tour. Additional out-of-tour activities will take place after the guided tour and will require you to schedule extra time and to bring extra chaperones.
- The PMA has a Photography Policy. Students are not allowed to take pictures during the guided tour, but may follow the Photography Policy after the guided tour.
- Students are welcome in the PMA Store in groups of 10 or fewer when accompanied by a chaperone. Visits to the PMA Store take place after the guided tour is complete.
- Please no cell phones during the guided tour.
- Encourage students to use their free "Member for a Moment" coupons with their families!
4. Please review the Museum Rules with your students.
The museum's common sense rules are designed to keep the artwork and visitors safe.
- Please do not touch! This is the most important rule to remember in the museum. It applies to paintings, frames, sculptures, stands, glass cases, labels, and walls. This is how we preserve art and keep it safe from damage.
- Stay back 18 inches or more from the works of art and the walls. This is how we avoid accidental damage to art and people.
- Be careful around the balconies. Enjoy the view, but do not jump up or lean on the balconies and do not place anything on the edge that could fall.
- Write with a pencil only and use a notebook or clipboard to lean on. We will loan clipboards to you, but we will ask you not to use pens in the galleries.
- Walk, don't run, in the museum.
- Please speak quietly as sound carries in the museum. This is especially important in the Great Hall when you are entering and leaving the museum.
- Do not bring food, drink, candy, gum, or backpacks into the galleries. You may leave your coats and other belongings in the bins provided or in the coatroom.
FREE K-12 Teacher-led School Tours
- The museum strongly encourages guided tours for K-12 audiences. The tours are designed to align with the school curriculum, encourage interactive dialogue and inquiry-based learning, and include sketching and writing activities that connect students with their own creativity. Students gain more from the museum experience and learn more about art when they are able to interact with docents and their peers.
- If you wish to develop and lead your students' tour, you may schedule a teacher-led visit. Lesson plans and other resources to help you plan your tour can be found at portlandmuseum.org/teachers
- Teacher-led tours must be scheduled three weeks in advance and you must follow the guidelines and Museum Rules listed above.
- Teacher-led tours require additional chaperones:
- Grades K through 5 = one chaperone for every 5 students
- Grades 6 thorough 8 = one chaperone for every 7 students
- Grades 9 through 12 = one chaperone for every 10 students
- Students on teacher-led tours must stay in their groups with their chaperones, and only pencils are allowed in the museum galleries.