When you visit museums, you may imagine a few leisurely hours strolling along, reading plaques, appreciating some art and being totally immersed in some new knowledge – now add kids to this… Depending on their age those relaxed hours can quickly turn into a whine-fest of “How much longer?” and repeated instructions to stay behind the guardrails and to not touch the paintings. But just because you have a small sidekick or two, it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a museum visit with your whole family.
You might recognise the above description and be suspicious, because I love museums, art exhibitions, you name it. Ever since Noah was a tiny baby (and now baby Finn) have been dragged along with me to all these special places.
Here are a few of my tried-and-true tips that will make your museum visit fun for the entire family—small sidekicks included.
Give the Kids a Map
Noah, like most kids, loves maps. Our first thing to do is to pick up a brochure as soon as we get to the museum. Let them navigate their way through. Be patient, you might go in circles, but pretty much every room in a museum is going to be of interest or surprising finds in it.
Take (yummy) Snacks
Crackers and cheese, blueberries, bliss balls and salmon wraps are amongst our favourite snacks to take. Most museums have a cafe, and taking a break mid-way through the day to get a pastry or sandwich can go a long way to keeping everyone happy.
Let your Kids Take Their Own Photos
Give them a camera and let them take the photos. Remove the flash function and it’s all good. Let them be the artists while gazing upon great art. I have now started to encourage Noah (he is 3 and a half) to try to frame his photos and pay more attention to what he wants to capture.
Turn it Into a Game
Everything is a game. When we were visiting the Louvre the main game was to find “The Lady” aka Mona Lisa. The kids loved to go through the museum, look at every room to see if they could spot the lady. In this case, they spotted hundreds of people shooting at a tiny frame that did have Mona Lisa – just like a treasure hunt!
It also works well with Noah, to give him something to count, like the number of apples that appear in a painting or how many different animals he can find in an exhibit.
Some exhibitions are just so organised that they create a visual checklist of clues for your kid to locate. We have been to museums with their own passport and a mission to complete.
Pick up animals or science
I find that if you start by taking your kids to museums where there’s animals, dinosaurs or science involved, you are more likely to succeed. We absolutely love science museums, Noah gets to try a heap of new stuff, usually they are very hands-on and engaging!