What To Do At The Museum With Your Kids?

10 simple ideas that will make your family visit more enjoyable.

1. Avoid rush hour. Back to basics, but since you’re so lucky as to be woken up early by your dear blonde, brunette or redhead, take this opportunity of being up before your single friends to have the museum all to yourself! And you won’t even have to apologize for loud children running through the galleries…a dream right!

2. Set the stage. If you don’t already do it for yourself because you rely on the text panels in the exhibition, think to have one or two nuggets on the artists or the museum you’re about to discover, to share with your kids. They are naturally curious and passionate about everything and anything as long as we adapt our discourse. And since you yourself won’t have the opportunity to stop and read each text panel this little exercise benefits everyone!

3. Entice them to describe what they see. Going to see an exhibition with your kids does not have to be a passive experience. Engage them and visit with them. Don’t hesitate to stop in front of a piece you like and which seems to interest them and ask about the painting, the medium, the drawing, the colors. Eventually make the link to other pieces in the room. Build their interest by making them an active participant in the show.

4. Carry them. Funny suggestion you might say but I encourage you to do a little experiment. Put yourself at their level and look up at a painting. Almost every time you’ll just see reflections of the light shining from the ceiling! It’s a fact, art exhibitions are rarely adapted to kids and paintings are always hung for adults. Imagine having the same perspective as these kids and you’ll understand why they’re quick to move on.

5. Play with them. By definition, games are characterized by the joy they bring. If you’re looking for them to learn, fun activities are usually the best way, so it’s up to you to find that ‘thing’ that will amuse them. So what are some ideas? Games will be different depending on age, like finding a particular detail on a painting, identifying dominant colors, finding works that resemble each other, or finding specific paintings according to certain clues. Use your imagination and you won’t regret it.

6. Help them express themselves. This is as simple as asking them to identify what they prefer or like the least and explain why, and perhaps even use this as an opportunity for some catharsis. Who knows what they could share with you?!

7. Don’t hang around. It’s not a question of running through the show but don’t stay planted in front of each piece otherwise you won’t have made it through the first room before the kids get impatient. 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.

8. Know when to leave. When you get the sense the kids have had enough, it might be time to pick up and go. We’re often tempted to stay a little longer, 5 minutes more and then just a moment more, but don’t forget that if they feel trapped in an exhibition for hours they won’t want to return. And keep in mind there might be enough of a distance to the the exit for a clever parent to peak their interest on the walk out…

9. Bring back a little souvenir. The idea is not to buy the whole boutique or to bribe them into behaving. Have them chose – amongst themselves if you have several – a card or a fridge magnet. This way they will easily remember the shared experience which they will in a certain way bring home.

10. Suggest a visit to the museum café. A lot of museums these days have a café or restaurant that are very cosy. They can make for a nice family moment as well as a treat for the kids after the show.

This list is hardly exhaustive and you don’t have to check off 1 through 10 each time you go see an exhibition with your kids, but I do hope it will once again help you appreciate museums as a family.

And to find exhibitions at destination museums around the world, it’s this way!  

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