European Masterpieces: The Grand Tour

During the 18th century, society’s young elite, along with chaperones and tutors, would set off on a comprehensive tour of continental Europe. Take your own Grand Tour of Europe without leaving the Museum! Our adventure embarks upon the English, Italian, and French galleries to discover what travelers saw and collected during this important step in their education.

Level

Grades 3–adult

Duration

60 minutes

Limit

75 visitors

Tour type

History/cultural

Themes

  • The Grand Tour: Travelers who took the Grand Tour across Europe during the 18th century spent years learning languages, meeting politicians, philosophers, and artists. They visited sites of great fame, natural wonder, and archaeological interest. They sought out great works of art in cathedrals and museums. They immersed themselves in the culture, language, and atmosphere of each place they visited. The works of art on this tour demonstrate the places and things a Grand Tourist would have seen and experienced.
  • Study and close observation: Travelers on the Grand Tour would spend time looking at and analyzing works of art. A key part of the learning experience included carrying a sketchbook in which to draw and paint to record their memories and help them see better. Visitors on the tour slow down and really look at the works of art. What might they record in a sketchbook or journal?
  • Collecting: Travelers collected paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts as mementos of the places they visited and the artists they met. Great collections were built via purchases made during the Grand Tour. Many of the items on this tour would have been of the type collected by Grand Tourists.