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Animals, Dresses, Diamonds… or nothing!

Six months ago I published two articles on children and museums. One was about the best Parisian museums to walk around with your kids, and the other offered a few suggestions on how to get them interested in the works and objects around them.

I’m convinced that any museum can seduce our little ones and that it’s just how we go about peaking their interest that’s important.

But there you have it…despite all these big ideas I recently found myself cut down by my 5-year old daughter while at the spectacular Irving Penn exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.

I confess, that day I’d been less attentive towards her as I wanted to enjoy this exhibition for myself. I didn’t take the time to frame the show for her 5-year old brain, or play or do riddles. I didn’t follow my own advice when it comes to kids in museums and the result cut through my visit like a hot knife through butter!

Barely inside she already wanted to leave. “There are no colors. I don’t like these photographs. I don’t like this show.”

“Yes, my darling, but can you find something you do like?”

But on it went. “Mommy, is it almost over?”, “Can we leave now?!” all while I was trying to contemplate Penn’s work. I was trying to stroll through this show at my own pace which was not at all to her liking.

And there the verdict came crashing down: “Anyway, I only like exhibitions with animals, dresses and diamonds and that’s it!”

BOOM! And silence.

One part of me was laughing at this cry from the heart, this assertiveness from a little 5 year-old. The other was coming to terms with a failed visit to the museum: my failure to enjoy the exhibition because of the incessant whining of my little angel, and my failure to make the visit enjoyable for her too.

Anyway, nothing too serious. But I’ll add that while exhibitions with animals, dresses and diamonds are more accessible to children – and everyone really – we were just a few days later at the Pop Art exhibition at the Musée Maillol where we had a wonderful time. Even Little Miss “I only like exhibitions with animals, dresses and diamonds” was very happy with her children’s guide in hand and a mother committed to making it a great experience for the whole family.

Reminder to self from my previous article ‘What to do at the museum with your kids’: “don’t forget that going to an exhibit as a family is a shared moment and will never be the same as when you go alone. But you do get that quality time together which is priceless.”

And you? Have you have had a similar experience? How do you get your kids interested in museums?


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