General Tours

Adults and College Students

One hour general overview tours by docents, our volunteer museum guides, feature highlights of the collection and temporary exhibitions. Special tour topics are also offered and tours can be slightly modified with advance notice (when scheduling a tour) to meet the interest and needs of your group. Special tours for the visually impaired are also available upon request.

American Masterpieces Tour

One hour, minimum of 10 people
This one-hour tour, a survey of three centuries of NBMAA’s masterpieces, provides a lively overview of the permanent collection from the Colonial period through today. Selections from special exhibitions may be included on the tour. This tour is also available to visitors on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. and is free with Museum admission.

Special Exhibitions Tours

One hour; minimum of 10 people
This tour takes a close look at special exhibitions on view at the Museum including New/Now. Please see exhibitions schedule for current offerings.

What is American in American Art?

One-hour; minimum of 10 people
What is at the core of the American Experience? What does it mean to be American? Is there such a thing as the American dream? This tour explores these questions by tracing the evolution of an American style in art from the Colonial period through today by looking at how American innovation and reinvention has shaped our visual culture.

A Closer Look at the Permanent Collection:

Special Tours for Adults and Families

In-depth tours focusing on movements in American art; special hands-on tours for families; tours for visually-impaired visitors.

Hudson River School (1825 - 1865) (45 min.)
As crowded industrial cities arose in the east, reverence for the undisturbed land resulted in an appreciation for landscape painting. Learn how the group of artists known as the Hudson River School created works that were intended not only to memorialize the grandeur of the American landscape but also to serve as instruments for spiritual contemplation.

American Impressionism (1890 - 1929) (45 min.)
Learn how American artists returning from France continued to use the American landscape as a subject while incorporating new colors and techniques to capture the impression of light and atmosphere. This tour will take a close look at works by important American Impressionists Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Theodore Robinson, J. Alden Weir, John Henry Twachtman, John Singer Sargent, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Childe Hassam, Frank W. Benson and Frederick Carl Frieseke.

The Arts of Life of America: The Murals of Thomas Hart Benton (45 min.)
In 1932 a set of large wall murals was unveiled in the former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art on 10 West 8th Street in New York City. It was Thomas Hart Benton’s The Arts of Life in America. These huge wall panels depict the ’Arts’ of everyday life - music, games, dance, and sports. They also show regional diversity, unemployment, crime, and political nonsense. They give a comprehensive portrait of life in America in the 1930’s.

Modernism and the Early 20th Century (45 min.)
Participants will look closely at several movements in art during the first half of the twentieth century. Beginning with the emergence of modernism, you will take an in-depth look at the Ashcan School, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism with examples of works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Henri, Kay Sage, Andrew Wyeth and more.

Focus on Contemporary Art: 1950-Present (45 min.)
The Postmodernist era has capitalized on the art movements of the 1950s and 1960s. Abstract Expressionism in all its manifestations, pure geometric styles, the art of the absurd--have all opened up a new artistic exploration of our world. Influenced by television, advertisements and magazines, post-modern art is presented in such a way that most observers, not only the cultured elite, can interpret the artist’s message. Learn how to look at contemporary art and decode the messages for yourself.

African American Artists from the Permanent Collection (45 min.)
During this tour participants will take a close look at the lives of African American artists from the 19th century to the present who have helped shape American art. Participants will view artworks by Charles Ethan Porter, Henry, Ossawa Tanner, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jacob Lawrence, as well as contemporary works by mixed media artists Willie Cole and Radcliffe Bailey, and photographer Dawoud Bey.

Women Artists from the Permanent Collection (45 min.)
During this tour participants will learn about the lives of prominent American women artists from the 19th century through the present while viewing works by artists Lily Martin Spencer, Harriet Frishmuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Lee Krasner and Cindy Sherman, and more.

The Family Tour (45 min.)
This docent-led tour, specially designed for families, is interactive and includes hands-on activities to engage young visitors. Tour topics may be selected from those described above or request a special theme.

Tour for the Visually Impaired (60 min.)
Looking at Art through the Mind’s Eye is a nationally recognized tour for the blind or visually-impaired, developed by a docent who is legally blind. The five-part format includes: a physical description of the gallery and its artifacts and the location of the visitor within that space; a brief historical frame of reference; a detailed description of selected paintings; biographical notes about artists; and ways of involving participants, such as questions, sound, poetry, exercises, raised-line drawings, and bas relief panels.