For Schools


Our free, one-hour educational experiences for pre-K to 12th grade students use authentic works of art to inspire and encourage critical thinking and to make real-world connections. The tours are led by docent educators who use conversation, inquiry, and interactive, hands-on activities and Visual Thinking Strategies to explore themes relevant to your students. Tour experiences are customizable, so students and teachers can connect classroom curriculum with specific artworks, topics, eras, or people—or just come here to experience something completely new.  

Click here for our brochure.

Click here to schedule a visit. 

Visits are available:
Monday through Friday between Memorial Day and Columbus Day
Tuesday through Friday from Columbus Day to Memorial Day
Starting at 10am
Up to 60 students per tour hour

Free School Tours is made possible by The AVANGRID Foundation, Inc., the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, and Unum. Free bus transportation is available for Portland Public Schools through Culture Club-Portland and for other Maine schools through Ticket To Ride.

Animal Stories
Designed for our youngest learners, ages 3-5 years, this tour introduces children to the museum. Utilizing children’s books such as Calico Jungle by Maine artist Dahlov Ipcar, we use literacy and movement to observe, describe, and compare and contrast three animal-themed artworks. 

Is a specific temporary exhibition of interest? Let us take your group on a tour of one of them. 

Picturing Maine
Maine has long been a place that attracts artists. In this tour, students learn about the rich legacy of art in Maine and the many artists from the past and present who have found inspiration here. View artworks inspired by Maine’s landscapes and seascapes, and explore Maine’s identity in terms of art and culture. If you are studying the life and work of a specific artist or region, let us know and we can design a custom tour to meet your needs.

PMA Highlights
Looking for a general overview of the PMA collection? This tour introduces ways of examining and interpreting artworks from many times, places, and perspectives. Students explore formal elements of art such as composition, line, color, texture, and media, as well as concept and process, through an introduction of our collection highlights.          

Art and Society Middle and High School Only
Explore artworks influenced and inspired by social and political events, and the power that visual imagery has to communicate important messages. What strategies do artists use to convey ideas about social change and awareness? How do artists respond to changes in society, environment, politics, and current events? Can art influence social change?

Seeing Each Other
What kinds of choices do artists make when depicting people and characters? How do artists represent mood or aura? Are portraits accurate? What role does portraiture play in the 21st century? Students respond to visual clues and gather information to explore these questions along with concepts of identity, narrative, and storytelling.

How did they?
This tour focuses on materials and process. How does an artist’s choice of material and process impact the meaning of an artwork? How do artists communicate ideas through their material? Learn about the ways various artworks were created and the types of media used. The primary artwork focus of this tour is contemporary art. 

Seeing Through Sketching
Sharpen and hone observation skills through a series of independent and partnered sketching games and prompts. Activities support close looking and experimentation rather than representation or drawing accuracy, so no experience is necessary. All materials are provided. Please note we can incorporate sketching into any of the tours, but this tour focuses on sketching as a way of looking closely.

Learning to Look with Visual Thinking Strategies
Our Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) tours are the most open-ended, inquiry-based tours we offer. VTS is a method of facilitated discussion that focuses on students looking at and talking about works of art. The docent role shifts from information provider to discussion facilitator. VTS asks students, as a group, to utilize their existing visual and cognitive skills as well as previous life experiences and knowledge to slow down and carefully investigate and interpret works of art. VTS, a tested and proven method, encourages the practice of critical-thinking skills that are essential to success in subjects across the school curriculum. Please note that this style of tour does not deliver art historical information but rather requires the students make meaning on their own terms. For more information about VTS, visit


Peggy L. Osher Art Study and Collection Committee Conference Room
Want a closer look? High School groups can book a visit to the where groups can take a close look at works not currently on view. For more information on a visit to the Art Study Room, contact


For more information on school and youth group visits, email or call (207) 699-4985.

Unregistered groups will not be admitted to the museum if their visit conflicts with scheduled groups. Admission fees are not waived for unscheduled school groups. Please note that the museum does not have space for students to eat. 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. The museum strongly encourages docent-led guided tours for K-12 audiences. If you wish to develop and lead your tour, please send an inquiry to the Learning and Interpretation department.


Culture Club-Portland

Through the generous support of an individual donor, PMA has come together with the Portland Stage, Portland Symphony Orchestra, and Portland Ovations to create Culture Club-Portland to advance arts education in our city. Through Culture Club, we inspire students by providing regular access to quality arts, building community, and making the arts a consistent part of students’ education. Culture Club-Portland provides students in the Portland Public School District with the opportunity to participate in the museum’s programs every school year.

All Portland schools receive free visits, including transportation, to and from the PMA.
Culture Club-Portland  programs are generously supported through the philanthropy of an anonymous benefactor, The Old Bug Light Foundation, and the Ernie Ayer Education Foundation.