Group Visit FAQs

Museum visitors

We are bringing a group to the museum; what can they do?

The museum provides Discovery Guides for groups to explore the museum on their own and offers education programs for schools. For information on visiting the museum and these self-guided materials, call Visitor Services at 785.864.4450.

For a more in-depth independent exploration of the galleries with your group, a series of exhibit related activities suitable for middle school and above can be found under Educator Resources.

For information on programs available for organized school groups, visit our Schools section of the website or call Public Education at 785.864.4173. Please plan to schedule education programs at least three weeks in advance.

If your group plans to visit the exhibit galleries but doesn’t want a program, contact Visitor Services at 785.864.4450 to schedule your visit. The museum appreciates advanced notice for groups of 12 or more.

What school programs are available?

Public Education offers a variety of science programs for school groups, ranging from fossils and geology to DNA and particles in the subatomic world. There are two kinds of programs:

  • gallery activities that use select exhibits to investigate a particular topic
  • hands-on workshops that are activity based and take place in our classroom

Museum visitors

Our School Programs page has program descriptions and fee information. All education programs are 45 minutes in duration. If booking multiple slots of the same program on the same day, we schedule each program for an hour to reflect a 45 minute program and the 15 minutes required between programs to clean up and re-set material. If booking different programs on the same day, one hour is scheduled between different themed programs for switch over. If you have any questions about our school programs, please contact Public Education at 785.864.4173.

Do you offer anything for high school groups?

Several school programs are suitable for high school. They include Quarks: Ups, Downs and the Universe, Cartoon Guide to Energy, Rock Clocks, DNA Discovery, Dinosaur Discovery and Walking with Dinosaurs. Visit the Schools page for more information or call Public Education at 785.864.4173.

Also available are several Discovery Guides suitable for high school and adults, and a series of exhibit related activites suitable for middle school and above can be found under Educator Resources.

What do school programs cost?

Gallery activities are $60 per program, and hands-on workshops are $5 per student. For workshops, one adult chaperone (including teachers) is free for every five students (paraprofessionals are free and are not included in this count). Please note: no additional adults or siblings are allowed in the program area.

Museum visitors

How do I book a school program?

Review our school programs or download our programs brochure to select a theme that best fits your needs, and determine your preferred visit date(s). Any program can be booked for any day Tuesday through Friday during the school year (dependent on instructor availability). Please note: if booking multiple slots of the same program on the same day, we schedule each program for an hour to reflect the 45 minute program and the 15 minutes required between programs for clean up. If booking different programs on the same day, one hour is scheduled between different themed programs for switch over.

Contact Public Education at 785.864.4173 to check availability of dates and to book your program. Please have the following information ready before you call:

  • preferred visit date and alternative date(s)
  • grade of students
  • number of students and adult chaperones (1 adult per 5 students) including teachers
  • school mailing information

Bookings must be made at least three weeks in advance. Booking begins in early August. We recommend calling early as many dates fill up several months in advance. Due to high demand we cannot hold dates.

Please let us know at the time of booking if you have any students with special needs. Feel free to contact us for more information, advice on popular programs or scheduling suggestions for large groups.

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Can you hold dates until I decide which one works best?

Due to the high demand, we cannot save dates. We recommend booking early as many dates fill up several months in advance.

Is there a minimum and maximum number of participants for a program?

A gallery activity can accommodate up to 25 people (students and adult chaperones), and requires a minimum of 15 participants. We limit gallery activities to a maximum of 25 people to ensure that the entire group can see the items we are discussing, facilitate effective movement through the galleries, and maintain adequate space for the movement of museum staff and other visitors through the space.

For school workshops, there is a 15 student minimum and a 30 student maximum; fee includes one adult chaperone (including teachers) for every five students. No additional adults or siblings are allowed in the program area.

Typically large groups will divide themselves into two or three groups and rotate between a workshop, gallery activity, self-guided tour of the galleries with Discovery Guides, visit to the Spencer Museum of Art, or lunch.

What is the difference between a gallery activity and school workshop?

We offer two types of programs for school groups. Gallery activities take place in the museum gallery space and use select exhibits to investigate a particular topic. We limit gallery activities to a maximum of 25 people (students and adults) to ensure that the entire group can see the items we are discussing, facilitate effective movement through the galleries, and maintain adequate space for the movement of museum staff and other visitors through the space.

Workshop

School workshops are hands-on activities that take place in our classroom. The classroom can accommodate up to 30 students. The format of these programs requires considerable preparation and set up time, and we require a minimum of 15 students and have a maximum of 30 students. We limit the number of adults to one for every five students.  Please note: no additional adults or siblings are allowed in the program area.

Can I book multiple or different workshops on the same day?

Only one workshop can run at any given time. However, a workshop and a gallery activity can run simultaneously depending on instructor availability. If you book multiple sessions of the same program, we schedule each program for an hour to reflect a 45 minute program and the 15 minutes required between each program to allow for clean up. If you want to book two different workshops on the same day, a minimum of one hour must be scheduled between programs to allow sufficient time to switch over the classroom.

Who teaches your programs?

School programs are developed and taught by our museum education professionals with science backgrounds and years of experience teaching in informal learning environments.

Classroom visit

How do I pay for a school program?

Program fees can be paid by check (made out to the KU Natural History Museum), credit card (MasterCard or Visa) or by cash on the day of the program. Payment must be collected in advance and given directly to the Public Education staff member that greets your group during check in. Receipts are available upon request.

What should we know about parking, lunches, etc.?

Groups that book school programs receive a confirmation letter with details of their scheduled program(s) and designated check-in time, as well as policies and other important information for planning their visit in the School Programs: Checklist.  You may also find helpful information in our Visit section.

Are there scholarships available for school programs?

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We have limited scholarship funding available to cover the costs of fees for school programs. Application forms are available for download on the School Information page and can be mailed or faxed back to us. If you would like a copy of the form mailed to you, please call 785.864.4173. Typically we consider scholarships for schools with a minimum of 50 percent of their students eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. Please note: programs cannot be scheduled prior to scholarship review.

Can a museum staff member come to my school?

Unfortunately, due to limited resources we do not offer off-site education programs.

Can I book a program for a group with students of different grades or ages?

Unfortunately, due to limited resources we are not able to offer programs specifically designed for multi-age groups. For school programs, all participants must be in the same grade.

Can siblings accompany parent chaperones?

Only students on the field trip are allowed in the programming areas. Parents with other children are welcome to explore the museum galleries independently during scheduled education programs.

matter matters

Are there special items we can purchase for students?

The museum gift shop, Fossilogics, has a wide selection of museum souvenirs, educational toys, games, books and more. Themed grab bags can be made for your group at a cost of $2 each. Please call Fossilogics at 785.864.4450 to order or for more information.

If we are taking school programs, do we also have to make a contribution?

The museum has a requested contribution of $3 for children and $5 for adults, but does not charge admission. Typically, groups that book school programs as part of their visit do not make an additional museum contribution unless they are able to do so. Groups that do not book programs are encouraged to make a contribution as outlined above.

Contributions to the museum can be made at the Visitor Services information desk at the main entrance of the museum. Payment can be cash, check or credit card. Checks should be made out to the KU Natural History Museum. Visitor Services can provide receipts for contributions upon request.

Here is a list of frequently requested contact numbers:

Visitor Services/Gift Shop — 785.864.4450
Spencer Museum of Art (to arrange a visit) — 785.864.4710
Food Service, Kansas Memorial Union (to arrange space for lunch) — 785.864.4651 or eventservices@ku.edu
Allen Fieldhouse — 785.864.7919
Booth Family Hall of Athletics — 785.864.7050
Campus Tours — 785.864.3911
Prairie Park Nature Center — 785.832.7980