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Tips for Visiting Art Museums with Kids

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Art museums may not be high on the list for many kids’ museum experiences; however, I’ve taken my kids to many of them to hopefully ignite a lifelong interest in the arts. With some planning, it can be a fun and memorable trip for the whole family. Here are some tips for visiting art museums with kids to make it more interactive, engaging and enjoyable.

1. Give the kids a camera.

We gave our kids our old point-and-shoot camera awhile ago and they have made use of it. Smartphones work too. It’s always amusing to see what my kids capture and what they found interesting. Having a camera on-hand makes the museum experience more engaging. They pay more attention. It’s also a wonderful way to see the museum experience through their eyes.

Getty Museum Los Angeles

Visiting the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

2. Many museums have children’s activities for kids of all ages.

But, I’ve also created scavenger hunt activity sheets for my kids. It can be fun finding specific paintings or a list of items the kids can search for in the paintings. For older kids, the hunt can include more specific questions about the paintings.

3. Browse the museum’s website for children’s programs.

You can also see the current special exhibitions or their famous collections. Research some of the paintings or featured artists. It’s a great way for kids and parents to learn together.

4. Accept the fact that you can’t see everything.

Pick a few of the museum’s famous pieces or ones everyone wants to see. The reality is no matter how interested kids are in art, there’s a certain threshold of how far they can walk or take. Our visits have ranged from an hour to a few hours.

Visiting the sculptures of  Ny (New) Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Visiting the sculptures of Ny (New) Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark.

5. Take a break at the museums’ courtyards and gardens.

The gardens are a wonderful way to infuse some nature time and breathe in some fresh air. It’s also a good time to have some snacks and stay hydrated.

6. Bring your own art supplies.

Sketchbooks, sketchpads, and drawing/colored pencils can encourage kids to bring out their inner Picassos. Reserve some time where kids can find a favorite painting and draw their own interpretations.

7. Buy postcards.

One of my kids’ favorite part is visiting the gift shops. They like to pick out postcards from favorite paintings they’ve seen which also become souvenirs. The Mona Lisa is still a treasured favorite of our visit at the Louvre several years ago. You can also visit the gift shop first and buy postcards of paintings that catch their interest and use those postcards to look for the paintings.

Visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and an encounter with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris.

Visiting the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and an encounter with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris.

8. Let the kids lead the way.

Sometimes, kids are content not to have any activity sheets so they don’t feel like they’re doing homework. We’ve tried to balance it out between scavenger hunts and letting the kids wander the galleries. My daughter loves anything with young girls or flowers as subjects so she gravitates towards those. Have a mini-discussion on art that interests them. Kids have a way of expressing their thoughts and feelings about art that we’ve found amusing and interesting. Let their imagination and curiosity dictate your tour.

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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…

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