Experience our exhibitions or the depths of the Archive, stewarded by a knowledgable guide.
Guided Tours, Onsite or Online
Discover the captivating history of written communication through Letterform Archive's guided tours! Whether you're a student, a design enthusiast, or simply curious, tours offer a unique opportunity to explore the Letterform Archive collection and exhibitions.
These custom tours are optimized for classes, corporate teams, and other groups. Our regularly scheduled intro tours will return in 2024.
Looking to visit our reading room for unguided research into a particular topic? Request a Research Visit.
Why Choose an Archive Tour?
Engagement: Guided tours encourage participation, reflection, and meaningful discussion. Ideal for educational and corporate groups alike.
Language Variety: Experience tours in one of 15 languages to suit your preferences, subject to docent availability.
Flexibility: Choose between in-person tours in our reading room, 10am–5pm, and online tours on zoom in time zones, ranging from IST–PT.
Collection Tours For Groups
Delve into graphic design history with guided tours of Letterform Archive’s permanent collection. From medieval manuscripts to digital type, witness an inspiring range of human expression through design.
Exhibition Tours For Groups
Gain insights into Letterform Archive’s thought-provoking exhibitions. Trained docents provide context to displayed pieces and the stories they tell.
Exhibition Curator Tours
Join a scheduled onsite walk-through of our current exhibition Subscription to Mischief: Graffiti Zines of the 1990s, where co-curator Kate Long Stellar will provide guided access to the show and special context behind selected objects.
- What types of tours do you offer?
We provide both online (zoom) and onsite (reading room or gallery) tours for the permanent collection and the current exhibition.
- What is a Collection Tour?
Explore Letterform Archive’s cherished collection through guided tours, available online on zoom or onsite in our reading room. Discover a curated selection of items like books, posters, sketches, and more, showcasing the evolution of written communication and language throughout history.
- What is an Exhibition Tour?
During an Exhibition Tour, our knowledgeable staff will introduce your group to the ongoing exhibition’s themes and highlighted pieces.
- What topics do the Collection Tours cover?
Collection Tours can include one to two preset tour subjects, with the option to request sub-topics. Incorporation of sub-topics depends on the discretion of the collections team and tour host. See what tour subjects and sub-topics we are currently offering.
- In which languages can I request a tour?
We offer tours in the following languages due to our diverse docent team. Note that availability of a specific language may vary based on docent schedules & tour location.
- Moroccan Arabic
- How interactive are tours?
For educational groups, our approach is interactive, involving self-exploration, reflection, and discussions. We encourage students to bring a notebook and pencil.
For teams, we default to a lecture style presentation to encompass more collection items, but we are happy to adjust this to a more participatory approach upon request.
- What is the cost of a tour?
Corporate groups pay $20 per person during business hours with a $100 minimum fee. Fees are waived for educational groups and nonprofits, though we do encourage honoraria.
- Can I take photos during the tour?
Photography of items (not people) for personal use is encouraged, and you can tag us on social media!
- How many people can attend a tour?
We encourage small groups for their depth of participation.
We limit groups to 12 to ensure material safety. If your group is larger, we may request to split your group into two.
There is no limit to the number of guests!
- How long is a tour?
Our default duration is 1.5 hours, but timings may be slightly adjusted upon request.
- Who conducts the tour? Can I request a specific person?
Our tours are hosted by staff and highly trained docents. A specific docent can be requested, though availability isn’t guaranteed. Mention your preference in the tour request form.
- What should I expect during the tour?
If the tour is long enough (1.5 hrs) and the group is small enough (<12 people) to engage with the materials directly, your group will be asked to wash their hands to handle materials .
On the day of your tour, you (or your group leader) will meet our guide in our virtual reading room on Zoom five minutes before the tour. The guide will make you a cohost so that you can admit anyone you expect to see there. Then sit back and enjoy as we walk you through the treasures of the Online Archive.
In our virtual tours, you will get special access to digitized items unavailable to the general public, and get to pick the brain of our highly trained tour guides. If you are coming from an educational setting, you may request a recording.
- What happens after I request a tour?
One of our staff members will review your request to confirm that a staff member can act as a host if the docents cannot. If so, you will first receive a confirmation of time and later you will be matched with a docent host. If staff is unavailable as backup for your requested time, location, or language, we will put you directly in touch with the docent(s) most likely to serve your needs so that you can settle on a time that works for you both.
- What dates/times are available for tours?
For onsite tours, we operate Monday–Friday, 10am–5pm PT.
Online tours cover various time zones. We have tour guides available in time zones ranging from India Standard Time to Pacific Standard Time. Just make sure to convert your desired time to PT when making a request.
After requesting a tour, you’ll receive confirmation that one of our can host a tour at that time, and later you will be paired with a guide who matches your interests.
- Are there any limitations?
Tours are subject to docent availability, and certain language or docent requests might not align with your chosen time slot. If we anticipate any difficulties in scheduling, we will reach out to you directly after you submit the request.