The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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School Programs

This is your MAH’s School and Teacher Programs

School Tours in History makehistory

Price: $50     Duration: 2 hours

History is more than just a story in a book….MAH is where HISTORY comes to life. We’re all part of history.

History-focused school tours feature local, regional, and state hisotry. All students experience the permanent history exhibition, Where the Redwoods Meet the Sea: A History of Santa Cruz County and Its People and engage in hands-on interactive activities to bring history to life. Please see below for details by grade level.

  •  Kindergarten-2nd grade. New this year! Learn more about your community through storytelling, artifact handling, and our very own All Around Santa Cruz Coloring Book! Tour length is one hour.
  • 3rd grade focus on local Santa Cruz history. Topics include Ohlones, Californios and the 3 L’s of Early Industry: leather, lime, and lumber. Hands-on classroom activity lets students use primary and artifacts to discover a Mystery History Person and understand how historians conduct research.
  • 4th grade Topics include early rancho settlements, tourism, economy, notable women and agriculture. Hands-on activity allows students to discover objects, analyze old photographs to discover four Mystery History People.
  • 5th grade Topics include Manifest Destiny, westward expansion and immigration. Tour includes exclusive access to the Museum’s Archives where students investigate and research local history topics of their choice using the Museum collection of maps, books, artifacts, and more.

School Tours in Art

Price: $50     Duration: 2 hours

Art opens doors to creative thinking. Make art. Make memories.

Art Focused School Tour encourages students to think critically, as well as integrate speaking and listening skills as they tour a featured exhibition.  Classes are divided into two small groups: one will explore one of our galleries on a docent-led tour while the other participates in a workshop in our Creation Station Classroom. The groups will switch halfway through the tour.

Teachers may choose from one of the following workshops in our Creation Station Classroom:

NOTE: The fundamentals of art that are covered in the gallery translate in all of the following activities

Explorations in Printmaking printmaking

Discover the experience of printmaking.  Drawing from art works exhibited in our galleries, students will have the opportunity to create styrofoam etchings both collaboratively and individually, taking an alternative spin on an ancient print process.


The Art of Storytelling: Shadow Puppet Theatre shadowpuppets

Journey into a world where shadows come to life!  Ever wondered what it takes to set the scene and immerse yourself into an imagined world?  Shadow play is an ancient form of storytelling where tales of heroes and villains are told and retold through the generations.  Come join us to play with elements of light and shadow to set the stage with paper puppets.  Using one of the most ancient forms of entertainment, students will make their own characters, animals and landscape and create their own adventure stories to be recorded.


3D Sculpture: Cardboard Critters cardboardcritters

Art manifests itself in vast and varied modes.  In viewing three-dimensional sculpture, art is transformed into movable forms that can be viewed from any angle.  Students will rearticulate the works they see in the gallery into tangible, kinesthetic sculptures using recycled and environmentally friendly cardboard.


All art tours are aligned with the strands of the Visual Arts Content Standards for the State of California with a focus on art fundamentals. All tours also support Common Core State Standards by encouraging critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration.

Tombstone Tales

Price: $35     Duration: 1 1/2 hours

Want to know the stories behind the tombstones? Established in 1850s, Evergreen Cemetery serves as the final resting place of some of the Santa Cruz County’s earliest settlers. Our community’s history is uncovered as docents tell stories and share memories of those buried at Evergreen. Each tour is an hour and a half.

General Tour Information

Art & History tours are scheduled from Tuesdays through Thursdays beginning at 9am.

Tombstone Tale tours are scheduled on Mondays beginning at 10am.

All tours accept a maximum of 36 students.

There is no charge for teachers or chaperones; a minimum of one chaperone for every seven children is required. Our school tours and exhibitions are designed for all grade levels. Tours must be scheduled three weeks in advance by calling the Youth Programs Department at (831) 429-1964 x 7020 or