John Brown House Museum Educational Tours & Program Offerings
The John Brown House Museum: One House, A Thousand Stories
Visit the museum with your students and open a door to Rhode Island’s extraordinary history!
School programs may include discussion of life in early America; Rhode Island’s role in the American Revolution; development of the city of Providence; the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; the Gaspee Affair; and Rhode Island in the world. These programs are led by staff and docents.
Field Trip Free for All Program
The Rhode Island Historical Society has made all standard museum-based educational programsfree to schools and educational organizations, including organizations who serve people with disabilities. This expansion of resources at the RIHS’s Goff Center for Education and Public Programs has been made possible by major donations. We are also offering funding towards busing for Title 1 Schools in Rhode Island through the Klyberg Fund for Educational Access! Scroll to the bottom to find out more about our bus fund.
*FREE-FOR-ALL GROUPS ARE PRE-SCHEDULED TOURS FOR SCHOOLS, EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (SUCH AS SCOUT TROOPS), ALL-ABILITY GROUPS, AND HOME SCHOOL FAMILIES. THE RATE FOR NON-STUDENT ADULT & SENIOR GROUPS AND NON-EDUCATIONAL STUDENT GROUPS (SUCH AS CAMPS) IS $8 PER ADULT AND $6 PER CHILD UNDER 18.
Our Educational Program Offerings:
Please note that all of our programs include age-appropriate discussions of slavery and the slave trade and some programs (for example, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Connections program) offer more in-depth coverage on this topic. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this. Please direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grade level suggestions below are just suggestions. If you have questions about your specific classroom please feel free to reach out to email@example.com.
Best for K-2nd Grade Level Learners
- Young Historians (40 minutes; Free)
We create hands-on opportunities throughout the museum for young learners through colonial toys and games, clothing, sensory objects, and story time opportunities. Contact us to customize this program for your classes. You may add a craft activity to this for a per student fee.
Best for 3rd-6th Grade Level Learners
- Interactions with the Colonial Period (50 minutes; Free)
Step through time into the colonial period at the John Brown House Museum and learn about life in 18th-century Providence. This program uses stations inside the house to offer interactive and experiential learning with sensory objects, discussion, and object analysis.
Best for 4th-8th Grade Level Learners
- Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Connections (60 minutes; Free)
This program illustrates these connections through a hands-on activity called the “Web of Complicity” that shows the relationships that stretched from the city to the sea in the global enterprise of the slave trade. This includes a discussion that familiarizes participants with many of the players, places, and materials needed to prepare a ship for a slave-trading voyage in 18th-century Providence. This program also includes a walk through the Sally Exhibit and a few spaces in the museum during our discussion.
Best for 4th-7th Grade Level Learners
- Avi’s Something Upstairs Walking Tour (75 minutes; $3 per student)
Step back in time and explore the streets of Providence through the lens of Avi’s Something Upstairs. This book has captivated young readers for three decades with its blend of time travel, ghosts, fact, and fiction. We’ll walk the same streets as Kenny and Caleb, visit the waterfront, and see the very house in which the story is set. Students will learn about life in 1800, Rhode Island’s involvement in the slave trade, and the traits of historical fiction.
The tour is 75 minutes long and covers one mile. Students should have finished the book, or have read up to Chapter Four, before participating in the tour.
Best for High School & College Students
- JBHM Guided Discussion (60 minutes; Free)
Travel through time at the John Brown House Museum with a guided discussion and tour through our historic space. During this program, we will delve into issues of the day whose effects are still felt in our present society like the American Revolution, slavery, and Rhode Island and it’s connections to the world.
- Benefit Street: A Mile of History Walking Tour (90 minutes; $5 per student, $100 minimum)
Created in the mid-18th century “for the benefit of all,” this colonial thoroughfare offers an enviable collection of 18th and early 19th century wood-frame houses. Although the street might seem like a museum mile, it is actually a vital urban neighborhood enhanced by ongoing preservation efforts since the 1950s. Students will learn about these efforts as well as the fascinating history of colonial construction.
- H.P. Lovecraft Walk: A Literary Life Walking Tour (120 minutes; $5 per student, $100 minimum)
Born in 1890 and writing through his death in 1937, H.P. Lovecraft‘s acclaim as a genius of occult and horror fiction lives on. Passages from his Providence-based stories (“The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” “Haunter of the Dark,” “The Shunned House”) and excerpts from his personal correspondence offer astounding detail about his life, work, and the city he deeply loved. Amazingly, most of the Providence sites that meant so much to the author in the 1920s can still be seen today. See the city through this legendary author’s eyes as the passages of his work are connected with locations around the East Side.
Walking tours can be added onto any of the above-listed house programs or scheduled on their own. All walking tours are weather dependent.
Availability & Contact Information
52 Power Street, Providence, RI 02906
Ellary Gamache: (401) 273-7507 Ext. 362
School tours are available by reservation Tuesday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
We recommend scheduling your program at least four weeks in advance to secure preferred times. Free rates are available only to groups who schedule tours in advance.
Since our staff works very hard to make each tour meaningful for each group, and time slots are limited to one group at a time, we ask for any cancellation to be made at least three business days before a scheduled tour. In the event of a late cancellation, groups may be charged a late fee of $25.
The maximum number of students per program is 35, though if you plan to add a walking tour, we may be able to accommodate up to 70 students in 1 day. Larger classes or groups will need to come over a few days and are subject to staff/volunteer availability. Contact us to work on a scheduling plan for your group. Lunch may be eaten on the lawn if scheduled ahead of time. In case of rain, lunch must be eaten on the bus.
For groups including participants under age 18, we require one chaperone for every ten students. Due to fire code capacity, extra chaperones may have to wait outside the building.
Accessibility and Accommodations
Please call for accommodations for participants in wheelchairs or walkers. Please inform us of any needs your group may have. We are committed to having our programs accessible to all.
The Klyberg Fund for Educational Access
Thanks to a generous bequest from former director, long-time supporter, and friend, Albert T. Klyberg, the Rhode Island Historical Society has created a fund to help defray the cost of transportation for Rhode Island Title I schools (as listed on the most recent RI Department of Education Title I Participating Schools list). Fund awardees will receive up to $600 reimbursement to help underwrite the cost of bus transportation to our sites. Applications will be reviewed on a “first-received, first-funded” basis until the available funds are depleted. Applications can be downloaded here. Bus fund applications for the John Brown House Museum can be scanned and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 401-270-71900.