Museum Programs

Contemporary art (or art of the NOW) reflects culture and society today. Teachers, students, and general audiences thus have a unique opportunity to consider and discuss current ideas by rethinking what is familiar to us. Using SMoCA’s rotating exhibitions as a learning resource, our tours develop skills in observation, reflection, and inquiry through dialogue, play, and collective meaning-making.  

Museum programs are fully booked this year. We will begin taking bookings for the fall exhibitions on August 12, 2024.

Dorothy Fratt, Red Mesa, 1977. Acrylic on canvas. 40 1/2 x 40 inches. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Collection, acquired by the Fine Arts Commission in memory of Dickson Hartwell, 1983.002
Roelof Knol: the space in between, 2023. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Installation view of La memoria de las huellas [the memory of prints], 2022, from the exhibition Agua entre la metalurgía at CUE Art Foundation, New York. Photo by David Michael Cortes, courtesy of the artist.

These exhibitions explore abstraction and meaning-making. In our daily lives within a contemporary society, we often find ourselves extracting meaning from occurrences like current events, questioning what these events mean to us—similar to how we would interpret an abstract painting. Artists use their personal experiences to create abstractions, taking cues from their lives, histories, and preferences to add meaning to their work. However, understanding abstract works isn’t always immediate for the viewer. How can we derive meaning from something unrecognizable? We share, uncover, think, and learn more.

SMoCA Discovery Program

Using SMoCA’s rotating exhibitions as a learning resource, this three-part exploration includes a pre-visit in-classroom lesson; a field trip to the museum; and a post-visit in-classroom activity. Each engagement opportunity directly addresses Arizona Visual Arts standards by creating, responding, and connecting to visual art.  

Before the museum visit, our educator facilitates an in-classroom lesson to introduce the topics that will be discussed and familiarize students with contemporary art concepts and the current SMoCA exhibitions. The museum field trip includes an hour-long exploration of SMoCA’s rotating exhibitions in which visitors gain a greater understanding of how to look at contemporary art through inquiry and in-gallery activities. After the visit, students participate in an in-classroom visual arts workshop related to themes explored during the tour.  

Length: three one-hour sessions
Grades: best for schools and K–12 learners
Capacity: 30 students
Cost: $100 per classroom

SMoCA Gallery Tours

The SMoCA Gallery Tour is an hour-long exploration of SMoCA’s rotating exhibitions. Visitors better understand how to look at contemporary art through inquiry and in-gallery activities. To book, visit  

Length: one hour
Capacity: 20 people
Cost: $5 per person plus museum admission

SMoCA school programs sponsored by:

SMoCA Museum Program/Tour Request Form

Note: Field trips are offered Tuesday–Thursday, from 9–11:30 a.m. in one- or two-hour time slots. Please consider this when choosing dates and times.

Time Scheduling

Select the tour/s that you are most interested in:
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Preferred Start Time:
Note: SMoCA Discovery Tours + Workshop and SMoCA Discovery Tour + Public Art Sensory Experience require two hours and can only be started at 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m.

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