Seven Tips for a Successful Museum Trip With The Kids

Ideas not only for Art Museum but any museum really.

February 14, 2021

Taking your kids (Toddlers on up) to the Art Museum or any Museum for that matter is a wonderful way to learn not only about art but about your kids. Yes, it's true kids' perspectives on art are fun to hear! Some things are funny and some are really deep and will give you an inside view to your child's thought process. 

Art museums are great places to go in the winter. Why? They always have a theme or artist being showcased, and some sort of search and find or game that kids can play as they walk around the museum that helps kids & adults be more aware of what they are seeing. And last, but not least, they are indoors, making them the perfect option for a snowy day, rainy day, or too hot day.

 Going to an art museum is no different than going to a swimming pool for the afternoon; you need to be prepared. Here are a few tips to get you ready.

1) The Basics! Discuss with your kids the No touching, no running, no yelling rules. Talk about these before going to the museum. The "no touching" rule can be hard for little hands. If it is too difficult for them not to touch the art, keep your child in a stroller or hold their hand. A great rule of thumb even for the smallest kids is to "keep your shadow on the ground and off the wall." If their shadow is on the wall, then they are too close to the art. I also like to use the "Stand By Me" rule where they are close to Mom or Dad and you are at a respectable distance from the art.

2) Do Your Research! Find out what is at the museum before you visit. It is a small museum or is it contained in an entire city block? Are there tours offered for children or families? Are there certain sculptures or "touch carts" that can be exlored? Is there a cafe? What are the current exhibits? What interactive things are offered? Games prizes for following any scavenger hunts or any flyers available for a walking tour of the museum?

3) Set a Time Limit! The first time you visit an art museum, you may want to set it at one hour. Figure out what you would like to see and go to that wing or exhibit. If after one hour, they are still having fun, ask them if they'd like to continue. Most adults can't spend an entire day at a museum and very few children could. Have fun and head out or they'll never want to go back.  Make the experience fun and entertaining. Ask questions and small prizes like a goldfish or a treat for the right answer or the best effort, most correct answers, most creative answer.

4) Make It Fun! There are so many ways to make a trip fun. Print off a map of the exhibit you want to see and make a scavenger hunt of art pieces you want to focus on before you go if the museum doesn't already have one. Younger kids can search for specific pieces of art and older kids can search for artists, genres, art techniques. Play I Spy at the museum. It's a lot more fun than in the car. All of a sudden questions (pop quiz) go from "I spy something green and it grows in the ground" to "I Spy something green with six red rectangles coming out of it and a blue star thing in the middle." Kids who like to draw may enjoy copying a favorite picture. Bring paper and pencils for your budding artist. Lots of kids do better with a friend along so make it a play date with a buddy.

5) Ask Questions! Sometimes one question can start a dialogue that you would never have thought existed. For younger kids ask them about colors, shapes, what they think people are talking about in the picture, what pictures they like or don't like. Ask younger kids what colors they would use for abstract art rather than what was used or if they can find the hidden item in the picture (Umbrella, square, dog etc) in the picture. Look for tiny things in a diorama, like a bird in a tree or something painted in the background. For older kids ask what piece of art would you put in your room and why? Ask how an exhibit makes your child feel. Ask if your child would like to swim with a prehistoric beast? Get creative with your questions.

6) Set an Example! If you're excited to be there, they will be excited to be there. Show your happiness at getting to see all these amazing pieces of art or visiting a mummy. Don't be too disappointed if your child "is bored" the first time you attend a museum. Every parent has had those experiences with a child who hates swimming lessons and then after the second week of lessons, loves it. Museums are no different. Keep visiting!

7) Reward! Visiting a museum shouldn't be a chore or feel like school. It should be fun. After your museum trip, pass out rewards for good behavior. It can be something as simple as cookies brought from home, to an ice cream purchased in the museum cafe or at your favorite Ice cream shop, to a postcard from the museum shop. Lots of museums offer beautiful grounds and sculptures. After being inside, head outside and let kids do what they couldn't do in the building; touch, yell and run! 

COVID Guidelines -  

  • Currently, museums require timed entry tickets and purchasing tickets in advance for general admittance and special exhibits.  
  • Masks are required and I like to carry a "Bug Bag" with you to keep your family and their surroundings clean.  
  • Visit the museum website to see what is there and if there that you are interested to see. 
  • Check the museum's 'Plan Your Visit" tab to see their specific guidelines and requests for visitors to make your visit perfect. 
  • Many museums have virtual tours and events going on too!