Smithsonian American Art Museum – Teacher’s Orientation Video

– music – Welcome to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a place where your students can appreciate first-hand how art is a window on the American Experience. I’m Susan Nichols, with the Museum’s educational department. We’ve prepared this short video to help you plan a successful visit. Our museum is open from 11:30 AM to 7 PM, seven days a week, except for December 25th. Admission is free. Docent-guided tours for school groups can begin as early as 9:30 AM. They’re free, too. Whether you arrive by bus, metro, or other means, students should enter at our G street entrance. That’s “G” as in “Group” entrance. Please remind your students to leave their backpacks and all electronics safely behind. Once inside, if you’ve selected a guided tour, you meet your docent. If your group is self-guided, please introduce yourself at the information desk. Staff there will provide you with maps and other materials. We welcome all well-mannered school groups. For the safety of our visitors and our collections, we require one adult for every fifteen students in middle and high school. You and your chaperones will be given neon yellow labels. This alerts staff and security to the adults who are responsible for the students. Someone with a baby, small child, or are using a cell phone, not a suitable chaperone. All chaperones should model active listening. Everyone can participate and learn. Our museum has so much to see and do. We suggest you allow at least two hours for your visit. The museum’s artworks tantalize the eye and mind. Please, remind your students not to touch the artworks. Even a light touch will cause damage, sometimes irreparable. If you schedule far enough ahead, we can provide a guided tour that links to your classroom study, or we offer general themes, like “Picturing America.” Your class will discuss the various ways the artists depict our country over three centuries. How about the tour theme “To See Is To Think?” Why do people make art? And what can we learn by close observation? Check on our website for more themes. If you opt for a guided tour, your docent will speak with or email you ahead of time, and remember, we really do need your registration at least three weeks in advanced for a guided tour. Use our online school tour registration form. Eating is part of a good visit. When it’s time for lunch or snack, our courtyard café offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, desserts and drinks. Groups of 20 or more can take advantage of special dining packages. For information, visit the Smithsonian’s group tours website. If you bring bagged lunches, school groups can enjoy an indoor picnic in our courtyard. Students may sit on our planters, or on the floor. Please, dispose of all trash properly. Our two museum stores offer a range of items in a range of prices. All of our facilities are wheelchair-accessible. Oral and sign-language interpreters are available for programs, if you request at least four weeks in advance. Our award-winning website is an excellent gateway to the museum, both before and after your visit. Check out these sites: “Catlin Campfire,” “Del Corozon,” and “Meet Me at Midnight.” You’ll find other useful resources, like lesson plans, student podcasts, and artist interviews. Do sign up to receive “Classroom Connections.” That’s our information pack e-newsletter for educators to learn about upcoming professional development opportunities in the museum or via video-conference. You can also follow up your students’ in-gallery visit with a real-time video-conference. Again, check out our website for details. We really look forward to hosting you and your class for a memorable visit at our Smithsonian American Art Museum. – music –

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