Family-friendly tips on preparing for a trip to the museum.

Adjust Expectations

Adjust Expectations

Just like any other experience traveling with kids, when visiting a museum it’s important to adjust expectations so that everyone leaves happy. 

Do a Scavenger Hunt

Do a Scavenger Hunt

You can make one (for example, find a horse, a sculpture of a girl, a boat, etc.), or you can try this very simple one created by library staff: Scavenger Hunt for the Amistad Murals

Alternatively, give your child the task of choosing a favorite artwork at the museum and then find the postcard at the gift shop before leaving.

Focus on Just One or Two Masterpieces

Focus on Just One or Two Masterpieces

If your kids are old enough for this, try preparing them for just one or two of the most important works in the museum. This will give your child a very basic understanding of art and a particular piece to remember their visit by. You can wing it while in the museum or prepare for it beforehand by following these steps:

  • Call or email the museum and find out what artworks they’re most known for/what their collection highlights or what special exhibits/artists are being featured.
  • Find out a bit about the piece/artist and why this artwork is special. It may be interesting to compare this piece to others that came before or after it to notice differences in technique or style.
  • Show it to your child at home and then ask him or her to find it in the museum.
  • Teach your child about the piece from what you learned at home beforehand.

Get Their Energry Out First

Get their energy out first

All parents know that we need to let kids get their sillies out sometimes, and fortunately, many museums are located near parks or at least have outdoor space for kids to burn off some energy before entering the museum.

 

Get Them Excited

Get them excited

Talk to them about what they might see before they visit. If your kids are old enough to understand the technique, explain a bit about the ways that people made the art they will see. If they’ll see works of abstract expressionism, for example, show your child a video of the Amistad Murals.

Talk about some of the people they might see in the paintings, and then look for those people during your museum visit.

These links and videos might help:

High Museum-Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College

NOMA-Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College

PBS News Hour Video

 

Give Them a Camera

Give Them a Camera

Let your kids be in control by giving them a camera to document their museum visit.

No flash photography.

Prepare Their Behavior

Prepare them for the type of behavior expected in museums

You may want to explain that because art cannot be replaced, museums have policies for both grown-ups and children to follow. Then brainstorm a list of possible expectations in a museum or look for the particular museum’s policies and share them with your kids (for instance, the museum policies are here).