Kids working with yarn
Photo by Kevin Lowdon Photography

Photo by Kevin Lowdon Photography

The Whatcom Museum provides educational opportunities to thousands of students each year by way of hands-on art, history, and cultural workshops and presentations. We also offer interactive, guided tours of the Museum’s exhibitions, as well as professional development coursework for educators.

Our programs are designed to support the educational goals of teachers and students of all grade levels, from pre-school through high school and college. We align our field trips to local district curriculum and the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements. While programs are designed to conform to standards at certain grade levels, most can be adapted for students in adjacent grades. To learn more about our field trips, lesson plans are available for each program below.

How to Schedule a Tour

To schedule a school program, complete the form here. Please allow at least three weeks advance notice.  Please contact the Education Department by email or phone at 360.778.8960 if you have questions or concerns.

Our educators are also happy to work with teachers to create tours and workshops that address specific classroom needs and utilize our resources in new ways. To explore those possibilities, please reach out to the Education Department as soon as possible.

Available Tours:

People of the Sea and Cedar Tour and Workshop

Aligned to 3rd grade curriculum standards, $6.00/student, $4.50/student for Title 1 schools

Hosted at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, this two-part, 90-minute program introduces students to Northwest Coast Native art, history, and culture. A guided tour of the exhibition, People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the History and Cultures of the Tribes of the Northwest Coast, is followed by a hands-on interactive workshop of various traditional materials, tools, and technologies essential to everyday life. Students learn the cultural importance of gathering, processing, and weaving with wool and cedar, rope-and basket-making methods, woodworking techniques and more. See the People of the Sea and Cedar lesson plan for more info.

Birds of Washington

Aligned to 2nd grade curriculum standards, $6.00/student, $4.50/student for Title 1 schools

In conjunction with the North Cascades Audubon Society, this 60-minute program offers students the chance to learn about adaptation while exploring the Museum’s extensive bird collection in the John M. Edson Hall of Birds. Hosted at the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall building, students practice close observation and examine how birds’ beaks and feet adapt to fit their environment. See the Birds of Washington lesson plan for more info.

The 4th Corner History Tour and Activity

Aligned to 2nd grade curriculum standards, $6.00/student, $4.50/student for Title 1 schools

Hosted in the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall building, this 60-minute program teaches students about the growth and development of Bellingham from the arrival of settlers to today. Students receive a facilitated tour of galleries about the industries that built Bellingham from a sleepy logging stop-over town to the bustling city it is today. We end with an activity where students are introduced to the concept of timelining by building a 35-foot-long timeline together in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall! See the 4th Corner History Tour lesson plan for more info.

Drawing Connections

Aligned for 7-12 grade, $6.00/student, $4.50/student for Title 1 schools

Hosted at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, this 60-minute program for upper-level students seeks to connect art with other subjects and disciplines. Students receive a facilitated tour of the current art exhibition in the Lightcatcher gallery with an emphasis on drawing out multidisciplinary connections, like the political context around a socially important work, or the physics involved in a kinetic sculpture. Students then complete an activity centered around the connected subject, from composing a poem about a piece to using geometry to design their own work. The interdisciplinary tie and activity changes with our rotating art exhibitions, so contact the Education Department to delve into the possibilities.

Environmental History – New Winter of 2020

Aligned for 9-12 grade, $6.00/student, $4.50/student for Title 1 schools

In this field trip experience, students learn about the logging and fishing industries that built Bellingham. Participants will analyze and evaluate the environmental costs and economic benefits with an eye toward the impact that industry has today.

CreARTive Thinking – Coming Spring 2020

Aligned for 2-6 grade, $6.00/student, $4.50/student for Title 1 schools

Hosted at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, this 90-minute program provides a safe, open space for students to observe, analyze, and think critically about art and the art-making process. Students are led through the Museum’s current art exhibition and invited to interact with the artwork in a meaningful way; seeing, describing, interpreting, and sharing their observations with peers. In the Lightcatcher Studio, students are encouraged to approach an art-making activity related to the exhibition with the same consideration. Students are then asked to describe and interpret their own pieces in the same way they examined the artworks in the gallery.

College Tours


A wide variety of college courses utilize our galleries and collections to make their subjects come alive. We prefer to work with professors to tailor our gallery tours and programs to better fit with each course’s topics and desired outcomes. If you are interested in bringing a college group on tour, please contact the Education Department in advance so we can work with you to ensure the useful and successful field trip.

Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) Pre-K Tours

$5 per student/adult/teacher

Many of the Whatcom Museum’s programs can be adapted down to be suitable for Pre-K groups, ages 3-5 years old. In addition, the Museum’s FIG provides a creative for younger children to role-play, build, create, and problem-solve. Changing interactive exhibits integrate art with science, technology, engineering, math, social studies, and literature. To schedule a tour of our Family Interactive Gallery, please email the FIG. For more information, please view this PDF: FIG Field Trip general information.