Chazen Museum of Art


Museum educators work closely with teachers to design and implement programs that integrate the museum’s permanent and temporary displays with Wisconsin school curriculum standards. Approaches range from appreciation of manufacturing skills, understanding content, and aesthetic appreciation of the objects, to learning about their historical and cultural context.


Trained volunteer docents are available free of charge to guide school groups through Chazen Museum exhibitions. Several themed tours are available:

  • Whistlestop Tour – This tour introduces students to formal elements of art, art history, art appreciation, and aesthetics through encounter with original works of art. Docents select 10–20 examples from several art historical periods, geographic regions, and media. With guidance from the teacher, the docent tailors the tour to the grade level and curriculum goals. In lower grades, the tours tend to stress design elements of line, color, and form; facts about the lives, culture, and motivations of a various artists; and subject matter. Upper grades will delve deeper into iconography, more advanced technical and critical considerations, and the influence of culture and historic events on style. Docents concentrate on the permanent collection and spend 10–20 minutes on temporary exhibitions. The tour is limited to 4 classes or 75 students.
  • What is an Art Museum? – This tour introduces children to the art museum and its role as a community institution. Especially appropriate for children (preschool through grade 4) who have never been to an art museum, the tour defines basic terms such as museum, sculpture, and painting using examples, and introduces students to museum manners. Using the Socratic method, docents present artworks with the aid of special educational material children may touch or a gallery game such as an animal hunt. The tour lasts 30-60 minutes depending upon the age of the children and is limited to four classes or 75 students.
  • Ancient and Classical Art – The purpose of this tour is to identify the characteristics and follow the development of the style known as "classical" art. Appropriate for art, social studies, and Latin classes (grades 3-12), examples are chosen from several media including ancient Greek vases, Roman sculpture, and coins. Ancient mythology and the manufacture and function of these artworks are also covered. The docent will trace the enduring influence of classical art up to the 21st century; for example, docents discuss both the change and continuity in objects decorated with the Greek hero Herakles from the 6th century B.C. to the 20th century. The tour lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes and is limited to 2 classes or 45 students.
  • American Art – Moving from18th century portraits by unschooled artists to early 20th century urban scenes, students (grades 4-9) will follow the development of American artistic independence from Europe through painting, sculpture, and furniture. The docents discuss the meaning of subject matter in still life, landscape, and genre, as well as portraiture. Because a goal of this tour is to see the artists' interpretations as reflection of American history, it is particularly appropriate for grades 5 and 8. The tour is limited to two classes or 45 students. A complementary tour is 20th Century Art.

Teachers may also work with the museum’s curator of education to develop a tour specific to class needs. Docents are also available to give guided tours of temporary exhibitions. Tours are free of charge to school groups. However, appointments for tours must be made at least four weeks in advance. Tours can be scheduled Tuesday through Friday 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; most tours last 1 hour and 15 minutes. Up to 75 students can be accommodated at one time; however, they will be subdivided into groups of no more than 12, and each group requires an individual docent. Students may sketch as part of the tour if this is requested at the time the appointment is made.

To schedule a tour, click here or contact the curator of education. If any individual in the group has special needs, the teacher should indicate this at the time of the tour reservation.

Educator MaterialsTop

Materials for Education packets, consisting of slides and accompanying texts, are available for K–12 teachers to prepare their students for a group visit. Teachers should discuss their needs for pre-tour materials when making a tour reservation. All educators packets are mailed to the teacher one week prior to the museum visit. Teachers are requested to return these materials to the docent the day of the tour. In addition to the thematic educator’s packets, fine art vocabulary lists are provided to classes taking a gallery tour in French, German, or Spanish. Contact the curator of education for current availability.

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Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave., Madison, WI

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