When is the last time you were at a museum with your children?  Did your kids have a great time discovering and learning about the museum’s treasures?  Or did their melt downs and/or complaints of boredom and hunger force you to end the trip early?  In today’s first class of “The Inside Guide to Helping Your Child Thrive from K-8″, Sandra Dumont-Jackson, Chair of Education of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave parents a host of tips to help make museum visits fun.  Here are some of her tips:

  • Before heading to the museum, check out its website. There you will find lists of programs of particular interest to children and families.   Many museum sites will include Family Guides for their exhibition which you can download and print out.
  • Also before you head to the museum, have a conversation with your children about why they won’t be able to touch all of the exhibitions (especially if you are heading to an art museum).  Explain that we don’t touch art because our fingerprints will damage it, and many works of art are old and we want them to be around for many more years.  Explain as well that there may be some exhibits where they can touch things (e.g., exhibits especially designed for children) but most exhibits will be off-limits to touch.  It is important to have this discussion before getting to the museum so that children don’t have to be scolded for touching things while there.
  • Once you get to the museum,  head to the information desk and find out where the cafes and bathrooms are. When you are planning what you will see, make sure that you chart a path that has food and bathroom stops along the way.
  • Curate your children’s museum visits and get help in doing so from the folks at the information desks.  If your child loves airplanes, ask where you can go to see artworks (or other exhibitions) related to airplanes or air travel.  If your child has just finished studying mythology, find out if there are statues of greek gods in the museum.
  • Need a break?  Check out the museum’s library, which is usually a nice quiet place to relax and decompress for a bit.  Ask at the information desk where there might be other quiet places in the museum, and/or places where your little one can run around a bit if he or she is so inclined.
  • When you talk with your children about a work of art, stay away from questions like “Do you like that artwork” or “How does that  (artwork) make you feel?”.  Questions like “Tell me what you see (in that artwork” or “Show me what makes you say that you see X or Y in the work” which ask them to articulate their reasoning, build valuable evidence based learning skills.


Try these tips when planning your family’s next museum visit!