Education & Outreach

Museum Education

The museum education office plans and coordinates visits, programs and instructional material for visiting students. Information on visit scheduling, financial assistance, and educational resources for the main exhibits, including examples of exhibit worksheets, are provided below.

Schedule a Group Visit

To schedule a group visit please complete and return the following form via email or fax.

Museum Hours:
Monday - Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: Noon - 4:30 p.m.
Closed official state holidays
Admission is free

Museum Education Office
State Historical Museum
600 E. Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50319.

Unless there is a problem with date or time, replies are not sent to confirmation forms. Please let contact the museum team if you need an automatic reply or follow-up. Otherwise, keep a copy of the completed form for your records as confirmation.


Schools may be eligible for a grant to assist with field trip expenses through the Big Yellow School Bus Grant for an arts-related education trip.

For Polk County and Dallas County educational visits to a cultural institution, funding may be available at Connecting Kids and Culture

For more information or questions regarding special programs or events, contact the museum team at (515) 281-6860  or

Educational Resources

Exhibit Worksheets

Discovery Program Questions: A focused activity for the numerous, large groups visiting the exhibits with a limited time schedule.

Participants divide into groups of ten or less, depending on the number of chaperones. The groups are directed by five different colored activity booklets (indicated by group in the documents below), each with different questions based on state curriculum and exhibit objectives, and each rotating around all the exhibits. Chaperones have the teacher’s version with the answers. Recommended for 5th grade through high school. Process skills: creative thinking, decision-making, problem solving, reflection, reasoning, information management.

Download materials to prepare for your group visit:

Bingo sheets

Instead of numbers, this activity uses names of items in the exhibits and in the atrium area. Students can make a Bingo or try to fill up their entire sheet. Recommended for children working on vocabulary and reading. It could be an activity for older students if the group doesn’t have a lot of time for their visit. Process skills: decision-making, problem solving, visualization, reflection. (Downloads not available at this time.)

Treasure Hunts

No reading ability required. “Past-ports” are booklets with line drawings of items in the exhibits. These are very popular with younger children. Process skills: visualization, reflection.(Donations are requested to cover the printing costs of these materials distributed at the Museum.)

Download materials to prepare for your group visit:
(Print on 8.5" x 11" paper, then fold in half.)

Exhibit Guides
  • Making Art Public
    The materials, online resources and activities contained in this guide are intended to supplement and enhance student learning around this exhibition and connect to applicable educational standards.

Visiting Information


One chaperone (adult) is recommended per ten students. Chaperones are expected to stay with their groups and maintain appropriate behavior, including walking slowly up and down the stairs and not running in the exhibits. Food, drink, gum, and candy are not allowed in the exhibits. Photographs may be taken. Lunches can be eaten inside the atrium depending on the weather or outside on the Grand Terrace if prior arrangements have been made.


  • Take the E. 6th Street exit off Interstate 235. Buses unload and load under the portico at the Locust Street entrance. After unloading, buses must move immediately out of the portico area. The best location for bus parking is on Finkbine Drive, west of the Capitol steps. Free parking for cars is available in the parking garage north of the building on Grand Avenue. There is metered parking on Locust Ave. and Grand Ave.
  • Check in at the Information Desk so we know your group has arrived and to get an accurate count of your visitors.
  • Restrooms and water fountains are located east of the front entrance and behind the stairs on every floor. Please accompany your group to check appropriate behavior.
  • The coatroom is located on the northeast corner of the first floor. Wheelchairs and strollers are available for use. There are offices, meeting rooms and the restaurant on the 3rd floor and groups generally do not go up there.
  • Groups sit on the main stairs for an orientation before they go into the exhibits. If arrangements had been made, they will receive Discovery questions, Bingo sheets or Treasure Hunts to use in the exhibits or just go around them accompanied by their chaperones.

Cafe Baratta's

The café is located on the 3rd floor.
Call (515) 281-3294 for group lunch reservations or catering.
Café hours are:
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday - Saturday
Closed Sunday and official state holidays

Museum operating support provided by Bravo Greater Des Moines
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