Guided Museum Tours

Students exploring the Captain's quarters of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan.

Students exploring the Captain’s quarters of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan.

Guided Museum tours bring the past to life for students and enrich classroom lessons with hands-on activities. Students engage with places, objects, and ideas from the 19th century and gain a new understanding of their own 21st-century lives. Our experienced Museum educators lead tours that are divided into small groups of 10 to 13 students.

Each 1 hour 45 minute tour will visit three key exhibits in which the activities and conversation will deeply explore the theme of the tour. Not all groups will go to the same exhibits.

The tour will include a Pair/Share activity (collaborative problem-solving), a Visual Thinking Strategy activity (critical thinking and observation), and a hands-on experience. The programs are constructed to always connect the historical to the modern, make the subject relevant to the student’s life and connect to the broader world.

Guided tour options include:

Social Studies and Language Arts


Grades 4–8
Immerse your students in the life of a 19th-century seaport village through any three of the following hands-on activities. Students may be apprentices in the Shipsmith, Shipcarver’s Shop, Print Shop, or Cooperage; meet a roleplayer or hear a chantey performance; make a sailor’s craft to take home; or board the L.A. Dunton or Charles W. Morgan.

    • Offered: September – November, March and April, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (includes travel time between Museum activity locations and lunch on your own)
    • Group size: 15 students minimum, 75 maximum
    • Chaperones: One adult per 10 students; two are recommended
    • Fees: $16 per person plus cost of Museum admission

Seaport Sampler

Grades pre-K–12 (1 hour)
Not sure what theme to focus on? Is it your first time visiting Mystic Seaport? Your best bet is to go on a Seaport Sampler Tour to experience a sampling of what the Museum has to offer. Your Museum teacher will take your group to tour one of our historic sailing ships, visit a 19th-century home, and explore one of the many shoreside trades, as well as give your group insider information about the more than 45 other exhibits to tour on your own.

Sailor’s Work

Grades Pre-K–1 (1 hour)
Students explore the world of 19th-century sailors and their ships. The Museum’s unique collection of historic vessels provides students with an authentic, hands-on experience for this tour.

Students will have the opportunity to:

      • Visit our fishing schooner, the L.A. Dunton, to learn about a fisherman’s day and to row a dory (on land!);
      • Explore a cooperage to learn how wooden casks were made;
      • Participate in a sailor’s story and tie a sailor’s knot.

Life in a Seaport Town

Grades 2–12 (1 hr. 45 min.)
Coastal communities were the international entry and exit points in America for new ideas, people, products, and technology. Seaport towns had symbiotic relationships with their ships and the people who worked aboard them.

Students will have the opportunity to:

      • Discover why coastal communities developed and flourished;
      • Learn how families lived by visiting the Buckingham-Hall House;
      • Investigate a working craftsman’s shop to examine traditional tools and compare them to their modern counterparts;
      • Visit the general store and learn about the local economy. Discover what types of goods were available in a seaport town;
      • Explore the important skill of ropemaking by actually making rope, or participate in a 19th-century school lesson.


Grades 2–12 (1 hr. 45 min.)
Perceptions of whales and whaling have changed over time. During the 19th century, whales were viewed as a valuable and essential commodity. Whale products fueled a rapidly changing way of life, providing oil to light homes and streets, lubricants for the Industrial Revolution, and baleen to shape the fashions of the day. Re-investment of profits from whaling greatly influenced and supported the development of other American industries.

In the Whaling Tour, students will have the opportunity to:

      • Examine the reasons we hunted whales in the past and why we do not today, comparing the past and present search for energy sources;
      • Explore the National Historic Landmark vessel, the Charles W. Morgan, and interpret how 19th-century whalers made their living;
      • Learn about the economic impact of the whaling industry;
      • Use a harpoon (weather permitting) or create artwork inspired by the traditional seafaring craft of scrimshaw.

The new Planetarium program on the Charles W. Morgan’s Guiding Stars is an excellent complement to the Whaling Guided Tour.

Voyage to America

Grades 3–8 (1 hr. 45 min.)
The rich fabric of the United States is comprised of many cultural and ethnic groups who have come to America for a variety of reasons. Coastal towns are the entry point for these immigrants. These people have influenced maritime life, the Industrial Revolution, western expansion, and many other aspects of the social and economic fabric of our lives. Every family has a vital story to tell in the development of the United States.

Students will have the opportunity to:

    • Experience the journey many immigrants took to come to America by visiting one of our historic sailing vessels;
    • Empathize with the immigrants’ reception upon arrival and their experiences integrating into American society;
    • Participate in a naturalization class in our 19th-century schoolhouse;
    • Discuss what it means to be a U.S. citizen;
    • Learn how important communication and the printing industry were to new immigrants finding their way in America.


Force and Motion

Grades 4–8 (1 hr. 45 min.)
Explore the Museum’s historic vessels and village to experience the concepts of force and motion in action.

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Use simple machines on board or on shore to concretely understand mechanical advantage;
  • Visit a historic ship to identify simple and compound machines in action;
  • Learn what types of technological advances occurred in several shoreside industries;
  • Discover how simple machines make work easier.