Want to get your kids excited about visiting art museums? These strategies will have even hard-to-please kids begging to spend the day exploring the nearest one.
Use Museum Resources
Before you visit any art museum, check its website for kid-friendly programs, such as family days, drop-in art studios and story hour for toddlers. Some even have online resources to help you plan your trip. On the Art Institute of Chicago’s website, for example, families can plan a custom itinerary and print out activities through its JourneyMaker program.
Similarly, #metkids guides kids through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. By clicking on highlighted objects on the interactive map, kids can learn cool facts about the piece and watch videos. Prompts also encourage them to use their imagination or create art inspired by the piece they are viewing.
No time to visit the website before you go? Stop by the information desk when you arrive. Many art museums have guides or activities to help engage kids. At the Dallas Museum of Art, for instance, you can check out a family tote or pick up a family guide (in English or Spanish) for Little Bookworms, Dog Lovers, Cat Lovers, The Flower Child and Music Lovers.
The information desk can also tell you about museum highlights families won’t want to miss. At the Milwaukee Art Museum, staff would tell you not to miss the Kohl’s Art Generation Open Studio, where kids can sculpt, paint or write a story inspired by art in the museum.
Arrange a Guided Tour
Some art museums offer special tours for families. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City conducts family-friendly tours on the second Sunday of the month. In Paris, the Louvre hosts family tours every weekend, including the My First Louvre tour, held at 11 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
If you don’t see any family tours, ask about them before you go. Some art museums, like the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., offer private tours catered to your needs and interest.
Not to mention, tour companies sometimes offer family-oriented tours and activities at popular art museums, like the Louvre. For example, That Museum creates treasure hunts at the Louvre for tweens and teens. (For a slightly higher fee, they’ll design a challenge for those ages 5 to 13.) Check with the museum before you go to see if local companies offer similar activities in their art museum.
You don’t have to rely on museum resources or tours, though, to keep your kids engaged at an art museum. Make viewing art a game. Have your child study a favorite piece for several minutes, turn around and ask them questions to see how much they remember. Or play 20 questions by having them select a piece and letting you ask 20 questions to guess which one they chose.
Or, before you go, Google “art museum scavenger hunt” to find free printables that have your child search for a “painting with clouds,” a mask and other common pieces during your visit. Similarly, you can purchase postcards in the gift shop before you enter the galleries and encourage your child to search for the artwork featured on the cards.
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