Reserved docent-led tours are offered at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., and 12:15 p.m. daily, except for Wednesdays and federal holidays. All tours are subject to availability. Each tour lasts approximately one hour, although length can be adjusted to group needs. Suggested tour size is thirty students. One adult chaperone is required per group of ten students.

Grades Pre-K–2 | Grades 3–5 | Grades 6–12 | Limited-Time Topics


Grades Pre-K–2

Animals and Nature in the Arts of Asia

Why do people create works of art to express their relationship with nature? Through storytelling, movement, and close looking at flowers, plants, and creatures (both real and imagined!), students will discover ways in which artists express important ideas and feelings about the natural world. Students may “jump into” works of art and imagine what they might hear, feel, see, and smell; draw their own creature; and move and roar like a dragon.

Grades 3–5

Symbols in the Arts of Asia

How are art, architecture, and other media used to communicate concepts such as values, identity, and power? Students will identify and interpret designs and objects across Asia that reveal cultural associations and societal values. Students may conclude the program by drawing a symbol that reflects their identity or one of their personal values.

Ancient Civilizations

What can we learn about ancient cultures through the study of art and artifacts? Students will explore the cultures of ancient Egypt, India, and China through objects that communicate concepts of social order, power, values, and belief systems. Students may conclude the program by designing their own protective amulet or composite creature.

Customize a tour

Do you have galleries, exhibitions, or cultures you would like your students to explore?  Do you have a tour concept in mind you do not see advertised here? Select the topic for your tour or the galleries of your choice. Please be sure to indicate your topic, desired galleries, special exhibition, and other ideas in the “additional information” section of the tour request form. Our docents will work with you to refine your ideas and give suggestions.

Grades 6–12

Arts of Devotion

How does art preserve and communicate beliefs? Students will examine works of art from the major religious traditions and philosophies that originated in Asia to learn religious stories and devotional practices central to each. Teachers may request a focus on one or a combination of the following topics: Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam. Teachers may indicate which faith traditions they would like their students to discuss in the “additional information” section of the tour request form.

Ancient Civilizations

What can we learn about ancient cultures through the study of art and artifacts? Students will explore the cultures of ancient Egypt, India, and China through objects that communicate concepts of social order, power, values, and belief systems. Students may conclude the program by designing their own protective amulet or composite creature.

Symbols in the Arts of Asia

How are art, architecture, and other media used to communicate concepts such as values, identity, and power? Students will identify and interpret designs and objects across Asia that reveal cultural associations and societal values. Students may conclude the program by drawing a symbol that reflects their identity or one of their personal values.

Customize a tour

Do you have galleries, exhibitions, or cultures you would like your students to explore?  Do you have a tour concept in mind you do not see advertised here? Select the topic for your tour or the galleries of your choice. Please be sure to indicate your topic, desired galleries, special exhibition, and other ideas in the “additional information” section of the tour request form. Our docents will work with you to refine your ideas and give suggestions.

Limited-Time Topics

Arts of Japan: Feathered Ink

Grades 3–12
Available October 1, 2022–January 27, 2023

Across three galleries, Feathered Ink explores how Japanese painters over the centuries have experimented with different brush techniques and pigments to represent bird feathers. Students will practice slow looking, learn about the tools used to produce the works of art, and discover Japanese symbolism. Teachers are encouraged to supplement this tour with resources from the Investigating Japan’s Edo Avant Garde website.

Mindfulness at the Museum

Grades Pre-K–12
Available October 17, 2022–January 6, 2023

How do the acts of slow looking and engaging in conversations about art promote social and emotional learning skills? Students will make personal connections and consider others’ perspectives through slow looking and mindfulness practices. Depending on the grade level, students will explore concepts such as caring for others and nature, gratitude, loving kindness, and implicit bias. This program uses lessons from the Kindness Curriculum, Peace of Mind Curriculum, and the Mindful Schools Curriculum.

Power and Identity in the Arts of India

Grades 5–12
Available February 6, 2023–May 12, 2023

How does place shape one’s identity? How do the choices an artist makes illustrate different types of power? Students will discuss contemporary photographic portraits, large-scale watercolor paintings, and stone sculptures of deities that reveal beliefs and values, historical court life, contemporary urban life, and the representation of women.

Art and Archaeology of Ancient China

Grades 3–12
Available starting March 6, 2023

What can we learn about daily life in ancient China by studying its art and artifacts? Students will discover ancient bronzes, oracle bones, weapons, tomb goods, and more from the Shang dynasty as they tour Anyang: China’s Ancient City of Kings. Drawn exclusively from the museum’s collections, the exhibition will feature over two hundred objects that illuminate life in Bronze Age China.

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 logistical information
  • Please call the tour scheduler immediately at 202.633.1012 to report cancellations and/or changes. For weekend cancellations and changes, please call 202.633.2843 or 202.633.2834.
  • A small portion of the National Museum of Asian Art’s vast collections is on view at any given time. We cannot guarantee that a specific object will be on display.
  • Please review the Visit web page for tips and safety guidelines.
  • For your safety, all visitors will have their bags inspected. Please consider leaving coats, bags, and lunches on the bus.
  • The National Museum of Asian Art does not offer facilities for eating. For information on dining locations, go to the Smithsonian dining page.