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Self guided program

Students develop their observation and drawing skills using the Museum's exhibits in this self guided program.

Self guided program (Stage 4)

Students investigate, draw and transform the shapes and patterns of natural specimens and cultural objects in the Museum's exhibitions. They engage with the Museum collections as a professional artist would, collecting ideas and making artworks in response.

Kono weaving with Alice Spittle
Basket weaving using traditional New Zealand Maori technique with Maori contemporary artist and weaver, Alice Spittle. Image: N/A
© Alice Spittle

Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your Artlook experience at the Museum, we recommend that you promote your students' observational skills with:

  • Observational games. For example, have students look at objects for 10 seconds, and then, after the object has been removed from sight, describe the object in words.
  • Observational drawing games. For example, have students sit in pairs, back to back. While one student of each pair describes the features of an object in their hands, the other student should draw that object. Encourage the student describing the object to be very specific, including details like length, shape and size.

Teachers with a preference for representational approach might wish to discuss measurement and its use in scale drawings.

At the Australian Museum

On site activities

Using a photocopy of the Student Activity Sheet: Artlook secondary (at the bottom of the page), students will make drawings in an exhibition(s). They will be guided by teaching points on the activity sheet on line, shape and pattern.

These drawings could be a starting point for a design project(s) that could be undertaken later, at school or home. The activity sheet encourages students to apply their drawings to a design brief, and provides some example briefs.

Organisation of the day

One hour is the suggested duration for self guided sessions.

We advised you to begin the session by addressing the student's together. Then have the students disperse in pairs or threes through the Museum, after setting a time and place to meet again as a group.

Post-visit activities

Some post-visit activities are outlined on the activity sheet:

  • designing a printed T-shirt or bag
  • designing a poster

Other activities that use the drawings done at the Museum as a starting point are:

  • review the drawings and photographs collected from the Museum when back at school - discuss the choices made and features of the drawings
  • enhance the research drawings and artworks for display at school
  • visit an artist's studio and talk to them about what makes them want to make art
  • Recycling Box creations - visit a place such as Reverse Garbage and use some recycled items to create a group artwork about your experience at the Museum, for example a mural that incorporates small sections from each student's personal focus of the visit
  • discuss how drawing an object increases your understanding of it, and how drawings distributed (eg. in books) might increase a community's understanding of what is drawn
  • research any animals that were drawn to discover the function of the animal part(s) that were documented. Have the students suggest how the structure of the pasts might facilitate that function.
  • research any rocks and minerals that were drawn and investigate how their structure might relate to the way they have been formed
  • investigate the function and significance of cultural objects drawn and have students suggest how the structure of the object might facilitate its function.

Self guided program details

Curriculum links

NSW (incorporating Australian Curriculum)

Visual Arts

Stage 4

Art Making. A student:

Practice 4.1 uses a range of strategies to explore different artmaking conventions and procedures to make artworks

Conceptual framework 4.2 explores the function and relationships between artist - artwork - world - audience

Representation 4.4 recognises and uses aspects of the world as a source of ideas, concepts and subject matter in the visual arts


Stage 4

A student:

SC4-14LW relates the structure and function of living things to their classification, survival and reproduction

Costs, duration, group size and availability

Cost: General entry to the Australian Museum is free for school students and children under 5 years old

Duration: Up to 60 minutes

Group size: No limit on however we suggest you split into smaller groups to allow for ease of movement around the exhibition

Availability: Every day except Christmas Day

Supervision ratios

Students need to be supervised at all times while at the Australian Museum. There is no set supervision ratio, however we allow free entry for teachers and accompanying adults at the following ratios:

  • 1:4 for pre- and primary school groups
  • 1:10 for secondary school groups
  • 1:15 for tertiary or English language student groups.
  • 1:1 for students with additional needs

Additional teachers or accompanying adults above these ratios will incur a cost.

Booking information

Make a booking

hone: (02) 9320 6222 or (+612) 9320 6222 for international visitors
Email: group.bookings@austmus.gov.au

When making a booking or enquiry, please provide the following information:

  • Name of the person arranging the excursion and their contact details (including email and phone)
  • Name and address of the school/organisation
  • Which educator-led program and/or self-guided exhibition visit you'd like
  • 3 possible dates for the excursion (in case your first preference is not available)
  • Approximate number of students
  • School year group or level of the students

Confirmation, payment and cancellation

A booking confirmation will be provided by email once your booking is confirmed.

Cancellations made within 7 days of your booking date and “no shows” will incur the full cost for the booking.

Cancellations must be made in writing (by email to Group.Bookings@austmus.gov.au) and you will be provided written confirmation of the cancellation.

Payment can be made on the day by cash, cheque (made out to the Australian Museum), EFTPOS or credit card, or alternatively an invoice can be provided after the visit. We are unable to process individual payments for students/adults in the group.

Planning your visit

Getting here

There is more information on getting to the Australian Museum including details of parking and public transport available here. There is limited street parking for buses on College St, near St Mary’s Cathedral.

When you arrive

  • Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your booked session, to allow time to get through admissions, cloak bags (if required), use the toilets etc.
  • When you arrive you will need to provide admissions staff with your booking confirmation number, school name and student numbers for the day. If you have booked through an external provider, you will need to provide the name of this organisation.
  • A Museum staff member will be on hand to greet your group. They will brief the students about how to move around the Museum and direct you to areas of the Museum you intend to visit.
  • In the event of a late arrival to the Museum or a booked session, some parts of the session may need to be cut from the program to keep to the scheduled finish time.
  • Students are encouraged to take photos, video and/or audio to record their excursion. Some temporary exhibitions do not allow photography but you will be advised of this on arrival.
  • Teachers and supervising adults are required to stay with their groups at all times.
  • Disciplining of students remains the responsibility of teachers and supervising adults accompanying the group.

Cloaking, food and drink

  • There is limited bag storage available on site. It is recommended that students just bring a small carry bag with the essentials for the day, however if required, storage can be provided depending on availability.
  • There is no space for large groups to have recess or lunch inside the Museum. There is undercover outdoor space –The Garden – which is accessible from William Street. Alternatively, Hyde Park is just opposite the Museum across College St and Cook & Philip Park is across William Street. In the event of wet weather, we can provide a space for students to eat within the Museum.
  • Create Consultants operate food and dining options on site at the Australian Museum. For groups, lunchboxes can be ordered up to 5 working days before your visit. For details, and to order, please contact amevents@createconsultants.com.au or 9320 618


  • Please let us know when booking if your students have any additional needs or learning difficulties so we can plan to accommodate where possible during the visit.
  • The Australian Museum provides access to all areas for those in wheelchairs and mobility vehicles. Further information on accessibility is available here.