Tours and Field Trips

The UI Pentacrest Museums (UIPM) are proud to offer tours of both the Museum of Natural History and the Old Capitol Museum. Groups may arrange for a tour of one or both during their visits. All tours require a reservation and are subject to availability. We suggest scheduling at least one month in advance.

There are three types of tours at the Museum of Natural History:

School Tours (for K-12 Students)  

  • Docent-led tours focus on the exhibits in Iowa Hall.
  • For tours of one museum we are able to accommodate groups of up to 20
  • For tours of both museums we are able to accommodate groups of up to 40. Groups larger than 20 will be split into two groups. 
  • We welcome larger groups for self-guided tours and we gladly offer supplemental education materials upon request. We’re happy to help you make arrangements that will work best for you. To make special arrangements for large groups contact Julia Despain at Julia-despain@uiowa.edu or at 773-681-4432

You may contact Julia DeSpain (319.335.1508) to make special arrangements.

Tour Length: 45 minutes
Cost: As of  August 2018 the UIPM continues to provide educational tours at no charge. 
Reservations: Required

Group Tours (including camps & day cares)

  • Docent-led tours focus on the exhibits in Iowa Hall. Tours may be tailored to either adults or children.  
  • Groups larger than 15 will be split into two groups. 

Groups larger than 30 should call Julia DeSpain (319.335.1508) to make special arrangements.

Tour Length: 45 minutes
Cost: $20 for groups of up to 15 people.  Museum admission is free.
Reservations: Required

Self Guided Tours

Tour Length: self-determined
Cost: No charge. Museum admission is free
Reservations: Required

Chaperone policy

The museum has a chaperone requirement for all tour groups. Adults are responsible for their group’s behavior. If this policy is not followed, groups will be asked to leave. We also ask all chaperones to turn their cell phones to a silent setting during the tours. 

For elementary through high school groups: 1 adult for every 10-12 students
For preschool groups: 1 adult for every 5 children

Museum manners

Please review museum manners with your class prior to arrival and plan to supervise your class during the visit. The museum shares Macbride Hall with UI professors and students, classrooms, and other university offices. Please remind your class to be considerate as they walk through the building

Gift shop

The museum gift shop is located in Iowa Hall near the east door of the museum. It offers educational and natural history-related items, and all proceeds go toward funding educational programs. If you are not allowing your students to visit the gift shop, please advise museum staff in advance.

Worksheets

If your students are bringing worksheets, each should bring a clipboard or notebook.  Exhibits, exhibit cases, and glass are not to be used as writing surfaces.

If you want docents to cover worksheet questions in the tour, please send us a copy prior to the tour. Otherwise, we ask the students to not work on their assignments while the docent is speaking.

Lunches

If your class will be bringing sack lunches, you may use the lawn around Macbride Hall (weather permitting) or walk to the Iowa Memorial Union (one block down Jefferson Street).  If weather is bad, the ground floor hallway of Macbride Hall may be used, as long as students do not obstruct those passing through the building.

Parking instructions

For car parking suggestions, see our visitor information page.

Buses may discharge passengers in the bus loading and unloading zone on Jefferson Street, next to Macbride Hall.  Buses may stay in the commercial loading zone on Jefferson Street if the driver remains with the bus.  Do not stay in the bus stop area, which is used by university and city buses.

Unattended buses may be parked in the university's Recreation Center Lot (Lot 11) at the corner of Madison and Court Streets.

Other local tours and field trip destinations