BUT WAIT... CAN I REALLY TAKE A TODDLER TO A MUSEUM?
Taking tiny (and occasionally restless, loud or messy) humans to a museum can feel like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be!
Experiencing museums with your little ones can be educational, of course – but it can also be fun for the kids, too.
Start off your kids’ appreciation for culture, art, and history early on in life. Don’t skimp on the museum visits in their younger years – just bring them along with a few tips in mind:
TIP 1: PLAN AHEAD
Don’t let us fool you: Heading to any museum with a child of any age isn’t always a walk in the park. That’s why it’s important to come up with a battle plan. When you pick a place to go, research in advance what kind of exhibits are available. Wandering around aimlessly may be enjoyable for you, as you take it all in. But with a toddler in tow, that strategy doesn’t hold as much water.
Pick a time of day when you know your kid is less likely to be cranky or restless or hungry. Set an amount of time that you plan on staying, and have an idea of how long you’ll stick around each portion. Head to the must-see items or exhibits first, then work down the priority list from there. The more efficient your planning is, the less of a chance that your child gets restless or bored.
TIP 2: START SMALL
Beginning a toddler or young child’s museum experience out with a long, all-day excursion can be overwhelming. Start out with a 1-hour visit to a smaller museum, or just try out one gallery instead of a long line of them. When you break up museum visits into small, consumable chunks, kids are much more likely to maintain interest!
And remember: if you just go for an hour and they’re enjoying themselves, you can always stay longer!
TIP 3: CHECK FOR KID FRIENDLY EVENTS
The children’s programs at museums are robust these days. So don’t just expose your kids to the pieces of a museum that you appreciate. Take them to the bright colors, the kid’s songs, workshops or costumes that many museums make available via their family rooms or children’s programming
TIP 4: HIT THE INTERACTIVE & MODERN ART EXHIBITS
Many kids have an idea that museums involve just walking around and looking at things, with no chance to interact. But that’s not the case! Many museums offer things like scavenger hunts, portrait matches, or mazes that can turn a “boring” museum visit into an adventure for any kid. Also be sure to hit the modern art wings which tend to boast pieces with bright colors more enticing to a child.
TIP 5: MAKE IT FUN
Come up with a couple of games you and your child can play together while at the museum. If you’re at an art gallery, race to see who can find a certain painting first (no running, of course). If you’re at a science museum with lots of dinosaur replicas, invite your child to come up with fun names for each one you pass.
If you have a child who’s already artistic on their own, bring a pad and pencil so they can try their hand at drawing what they see. This way, kids can leave museums with memories – but also their own artwork!
TIP 6: DEBRIEF AFTERWARDS
Talk to your child after their big day. Ask questions about what they enjoyed, what they didn’t like so much, and where they had the most fun. Let them tell you what they learned. Kids are honest and will let you know if they were bored. So take their feedback to heart and integrate it into the next museum experience you plan!
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TIP 7: TRY DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSEUMS
Your family doesn’t have to lock into one type of museum. Do you have a child who’s interested in science instead of art? Or maybe a kid who’s super active and would be more interested in an outdoor exhibit or garden? Test out a few different kinds until you find something that sticks.
Diversifying your museum visits helps you figure out what your child is most interested in and makes it more likely that they'll want to go back and experience more. Start off with what they love and it'll open the door to more discovery.
Aspen the Docent
Docent by day and sometimes night, avid creator always. And yeah, I'm a peg person.
Thoughts/questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org