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Every Picture Tells a Story
Grades 3 through 12

Paintings are more than just pictures in a frame—they are unfolding stories with multiple perspectives. During this tour, students will learn to "read" works of art by identifying characters, setting, and plot, and by imaginatively creating dialogues inspired by characters in the works of art.

Looking and Learning Skills

During four or five tour stops in the galleries, students engage in activities—such as looking exercises, small-group work, and sketching—that foster conversations about works of art. On this tour, students will practice the following skills:

• making and articulating careful observations;
• formulating questions that demonstrate curiosity and engagement;
• examining paintings from the perspectives of peers, the artists, and the people in the paintings;
• comparing and connecting different paintings;
• reasoning with evidence from the works of art themselves—developing narratives based on what's seen in the work of art; and
• connecting new ideas learned from the tour to prior knowledge and experience

Examples of Works Featured on Tour

Logistical Information

Group Size: Up to 90 students
Length: 60 minutes for grade 3; 75 minutes for grades 4 through 12
Meeting Location: West Building Rotunda

Additional Gallery Resources

Art in the Classroom Poster
"The Railway" by Edouard Manet

Download poster (PDF 522kb)

Manet’s The Railway gives us a glimpse of Parisian life in the 19th century. The poster offers information and activities to encourage looking at, thinking about, and interpreting the work of art. It can be used flexibly and is suitable for small-group or whole-class work.

Art in the Classroom Poster
The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, 1900 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Download poster (PDF 685KB)

The poster offers information and activities to encourage students to consider the perspectives of a famous regiment of African American Civil War soldiers through careful looking at art images and use of creative-writing prompts. It explores the artistic challenges of creating a meaningful memorial and tasks students with conceptualizing their own memorials.

Learn more about how the poster links to Common Core State Standards (PDF 71KB).

Tours must be scheduled at least four weeks in advance. Groups must contain at least 15 students.

Once your tour has been scheduled, you will receive a confirmation letter via e-mail in 10 business days (14 days for Spanish-language tours).

Watch a video (grades 1-4) or download a presentation (grades 4-12) (PPT, 4MB) to show your students what to expect on their tour. Please review museum policies, location, parking, accessibility, security, lunch options, and other important visitor information.

Our tour scheduler is available to answer questions on Monday through Wednesday between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. (September through May). Please contact her at (202) 842-6249 [email protected].

Also see our Frequently Asked Questions about School Tours.

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