Interpretive Tour & Educational Program Design

When was the last time you went on a museum or gallery tour that inspired you, encouraged you to connect with the work on view, and stuck with you even after you left the museum? Museum and gallery tours have incredible potential to ignite the power of art and get visitors coming back for more, but many arts organizations don't take advantage of this. 

I believe that interpretive tours are imperative for any arts organization that exhibits artwork. It's the most personal and effective way to help your visitors engage with the work on view. As an independent museum educator, I design and facilitate tours of art exhibitions as well as related educational programs.

After an interpretive tour, surveyed participants state that they want to return to the museum or exhibition and are looking forward to their next visit. 

My process begins with a close study of the content and structure of the exhibition to determine the flow and narrative of the tour. After designating "conversation points" – select works of art where conversation and meaning making will be focused – I create corresponding guided-looking activities. Finally, I personally facilitate scheduled tours or train other staff or docents to facilitate the tour.

Why interpretive, thematic tours?

While there is a time and a place for the standard overview tour, information-based tours are often static and suggest that there is only one way to look at a work of art or an exhibition. Discussion-based, interpretive tours create dynamic and inclusive experiences that are both memorable and open-ended, leaving room for tour participants to come back and rediscover the exhibition. Participants feel empowered by what they have learned and are anxious to return and explore some more. 

Close-looking sessions

Sometimes focusing on a small selection of artworks – even just one or two – can be a unique and powerful experience. Close-looking sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour and highlight one work of art or a small selection of works in an exhibition. This is an excellent way to supplement existing educational programing or an exhibition-related event.

Flexible options

My interpretive tour design services are customizable to accommodate the needs of your institution. Whether you need one close-looking session, an interpretive tour for a temporary exhibition, or an enhanced tour of your permanent collection, we can work together to find a solution that works for you.


Selected Tours


Testimonials

As a Santa Fe local, I had a preconceived notion about galleries on Canyon Road and about tours in general. Elaine blew all of those up and then some! She took us to some amazing (unknown to me) spaces, asked us to engage with the art in a totally new way, and inspired me to reimagine this district I have known for 20+ years but clearly never really knew. Thank you Elaine for a wonderful interactive and inspiring tour. You made me want to return and explore more!
— Amy Tischler, Simply Social Media
My intermediate and upper-intermediate ESL students loved Elaine’s Museum Chatter program. We visited the Mestrovic Gallery in Zagreb and experienced the gallery in an entirely new way, as none of the students nor I have an arts background. The interactive approach fit perfectly into my conversational English program. Elaine’s thought-provoking discussion questions and talking points guiding us through the visit made it easy and natural for the students to share their thoughts and opinions in a relaxed and inspiring environment, practicing their English while also learning something new.
— Jelena Primorac, Owner & ESL Teacher, Speak Up!
I enjoyed your knowledge, involving people. I have to show the gallery to my husband and friends visiting. And I am sure I will enjoy it again myself. I hope you will be our guide many more times to come – in other museums as well.
— Else, interpretive tour participant
Thank you Elaine for your beautifully orchestrated walk through art. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon and enter into new ways of seeing. Loved the conversations with others. It woke me up to the value of concentrating and describing. Terrific choice of galleries.
— Barbara Rockman, custom Canyon Road tour participant
I’ve never taken an art class of any kind and quickly glance at art as I pass through galleries as I look for an open bar...but this tour was surprisingly effective at getting me to appreciate art on a different level. Elaine leads group discussions and gets everyone to use various techniques to understand what each examined piece may be trying to portray and how you feel about it...and why you feel that way!
— TripAdvisor review for Santa Fe Art Tours
I was quite happy with the tour and had a wonderful experience. I liked the approach – talking about the importance of women in Mestrovic’s work. I also liked the interactive aspect of the tour – the guide got the audience to participate actively and express their feelings about the statues.
— Romana, interpretive tour participant