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Group Tours: Go Beneath the Surface

November 13, 2015

With a docent-led tour experience at the CMA, adult visitors gain valuable insight into the museum’s collection and exciting featured exhibitions. Ever wonder how a Renaissance artist made gilded altar panels or how Monet completed his en plein air masterpieces? A group tour can answer these and other questions, while offering an engaging alternative to walking through the galleries alone. Tours offer adults lifelong learning opportunities for pleasure and personal growth.

Patrons in groups of 10 or more can obtain a better understanding of art with a private, docent-led tour. Docents go beyond the wall text and challenge visitors to explore an object’s meaning and relate art to experiences and memories on an individual level. When a patron has a personal connection to art, it makes the visit more impactful. Visitors not only learn new things from the well-trained docents, but are empowered to discuss and consider art in their own words.

Docent-led tours of the special exhibitions bring art to life for CMA visitors and shed light on more obscure artists and topics. “I have received several comments about how helpful Katie [the docent] was in helping our members understand and appreciate art that might not have impressed them if they had just seen it on their own,” says Joan Van Leuven from the Shepherd’s Center of St. Andrews about a tour of a lesser-known artist’s work.

A visitor can also learn about the process in which the museum acquires pieces or receives loans. In some cases, docents can give background information on the art installation. These extra details are part of what makes guided tours at the CMA exceptional. The Docent Corps are an integral part of the museum’s educational mission. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, they bring their own personal touch to a tour on top of the extensive on-going training they receive. 

Tours are offered to a variety of groups, such as clubs and organizations, assisted living facilities, birthday parties, and family reunions. “Thank you so much for the personal tour,” says Cate Cane from the Culture and Heritage Museums in York, S.C. “It was excellent! Having a knowledgeable guide makes such a difference and enlivens and enriches the experience. We look forward to visiting again.”

There are unique options for adult groups that want to tour the museum. A guided tour of the museum will last approximately one hour and only cost $10 per person. For groups that want a special tour package, the Art du Jour Tour and Lunch program is a way to enjoy a delicious and elegant lunch followed by a private tour. This program can accommodate up to 30 individuals and includes the use of the CMA’s enchanting Orientation Gallery painted by trompe l’oeil artist Christian Thee. The CMA works with Spotted Salamander Café to provide fresh box lunches or buffet lunch options at $25 per person or $35 per person, respectively, and includes the tour price. 

For more information or to book a tour, contact or 803-343-2163.

If you prefer, read the full fall 2015 issue of Collections in PDF form here.