Visiting the art museum with children

Art museums aren’t just for grown-ups anymore. Take your children to the museum often. Most art museums are kid friendly now and even have backpack activity kits for kids to use in exploring the art world. Follow these simple guidelines for a pleasant museum visit:

Keep your visit to approximately two hours. If your children are forced to stay at a museum for several hours, they may never want to return. In fact, you may never want to bring them back to the museum. Leave the museum while they are still having a good time and they will beg to return.

Only visit one segment of the museum on any one day. Trying to take in a whole museum in one day is daunting even for an adult. Your children will remember more about the individual artworks if they are not bombarded with too many works of art during one visit.

Take lots of breaks. When going through the various galleries of the museum, you will notice benches and seating areas. Take time to sit and talk about all the paintings or sculptures in the room.

Bring a sack lunch and take a pleasant break in the museum lunch room or snack bar. If it fits your budget, consider allowing your children to buy a sweet treat for dessert in the snack bar.

Some museums have play areas for children that will spark their interest in artistic and creative ways. Play in the areas designated for kids if the museum has one. The children will enjoy meeting new friends and will work off some energy.

Teach them about the museum rules so they will be prepared before you go. Museums are special places and children should be taught to behave appropriately. There will be lines that they cannot cross and sometimes cords that surround sculptures and other objects. They must be taught that they cannot touch any work of art.

Take advantage of interactive exhibits and teaching stations. Let the children spend significant time at these stations that are designed to peak their interests.

Talk about the artwork as you walk around the exhibits. Pick out your favorite pieces and ask the children about their favorites. Use the ride home to continue to discuss the artwork that you viewed. Review the names of the artists, and remind your children about the pieces that they created.

Over the next few days, children can create their own art museum at home using drawings and paintings that they create. Consider setting up tables to be used as pedestals for stuffed animals and other objects.

Visiting an art museum or gallery with children need not be stressful if you prepare your children for the experience. Remember that you are there for your children and plan accordingly, keeping in mind their tolerance for an activity in which they must be somewhat restrained. You can use the museum’s website to prepare the children for specific exhibits in the museum. Museums often have docents (guides) on staff to give tours and lectures; call the museum to see if there are any scheduled tours for children or you may want to arrange one for a small group of children.