Inside: Art museums and kids museums can be fun, educational, and creative experiences. But it requires preparation. Here are 10 ways to make an art museum experience come alive for your family.
The information from this blog is a recap from my “Tidbits of Wisdom for Parents,” video series found on my YouTube channel. It’s approximately 9 minutes in length. All the videos in the series focus on ways you can help your child tap into their sense of wonder and curiosity thus helping them to be brighter kids. If you prefer to watch the video, click on the link at the end of this post.
Kids Museum: Making Art Museums Come Alive for Kids!
Have your kids ever asked you to take them to an art museum? If so, you have highly unusual children! Most parents report that taking their kids to an art museum is like having a root canal—it’s that painful! However, it doesn’t have to be. Follow these 10 simple steps and you’re on your way to “kids-museum-success!”
Visiting Art Museums With Kids: 10 Points to Make it a Success!
#1: Kids Museum: Preparation is Everything!
Before going, prepare your kids for what they will encounter. Prepare them in the same way you would prepare them prior to going to a musical, a play, an orchestra, etc. Go to the library. Check out books about artists such as:
- Pablo Picasso
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- Claude Monet
- Mary Cassatt
- Vincent Van Gogh
- Jackson Pollack
- Wassily Kandinsky and others
Show your children their artwork and ask them questions that will stir their imaginations and get them thinking such as:
- What do you like best about this painting?
- What don’t you like about the painting?
- Do you like the choice of colors used? Why or why not?
- Would you like to draw a painting like this? Why or why not?
Explain to your children that you are going to an art museum and you may see some of these very same paintings—only the size of the painting will be quite different, the colors will look more vivid and exciting and you may be able to see the textures of the paint reflected on the canvas.
#2: Kids Museum: Keep it to One Hour
Tell your children that you will only be staying at the art museum for one hour and afterward the family will be going to lunch. So, you have to make the most of every minute at the museum. That requires having a plan in place that includes:
- 1-hour at the museum and museum bookstore
- Lunch or snacks afterward
It’s as simple as 1-2-3!
#3: Kids Museum: Kid’s Section of the Museum: Worth it or Not?
If there is a children’s section at the museum, make certain it’s not just a place where your kids are looking at something and pressing a button. It should be interactive. If it’s not—leave and start enjoying the paintings.
#4: Kids Museum: Divide and Conquer
If your spouse is going—divide the kids between both parents. Look at your watches and agree to meet back at the museum bookstore in exactly one hour.
And consider taking one or two of your kids’ friends along. Kids like having their friends tag along and share the experience.
#5: Kids Museum: Grab a Notebook and Scribble!
Take blank notebooks and pens for each child and adult. They will use these to take notes of what they see and observe in the museum
#6: Kids Museum: Find Your 5 Faves!
Go to different sections of the museum. Look at all the paintings, sculptures, etc. in each room. Ask your children to find 5 paintings they like. They may find them in the same section of the museum, but if they don’t, visit other sections of the museum (which is more fun anyway). Once your children have found 5 of their favorite paintings, have them write down in their notebooks the following about each painting:
- name of the painting
- name of the artist
- date it was painted
- the section the painting is found in the museum
Next, have them write down a couple of sentences that include: why they like it and why it appeals to them. For instance:
- What specifically do they like about the painting? Is it the colors? Or the subject matter?
- Does the painting tell a story? How can they tell? Does the name of the painting give them any clues?
- What feelings do they have when looking at the paintings? Does the painting make them happy? Curious? In awe?
- Do they know anything about the artist or what period he/she painted in? Can they guess by the date of the painting?
Last—which of the five paintings is his/her favorite and why? Each person should be prepared to share this information with the family. Make time and have each child take the family to see his/her favorite painting in the museum.
#7: Kids Museum: Treasures in the Museum Bookstore
At the end of your family experience, go to the museum bookstore. If possible, purchase an inexpensive print or even a postcard of each of your child’s favorite paintings. Have a bulletin board in your house where you can hang up these “favorites’ and reminisce over your museum experience. Plus, this gives you an additional opportunity to find out more about the artists and the paintings your children saw.
Here are 3 bonus tips to make your art museum experience with your child meaningful. Besides helping your kids to love and enjoy art, you also want to tap into their creative juices. These next 3 ideas will do just that…
#8: Kids Museum: Synesthesia: Synes…What?
Ever heard of synesthesia?
It’s the blending and crossing over of the senses. Synesthetes are people who see the alphabet in color, they can look at a shape and literally taste it, (See: The Man Who Tasted Shapes by Richard Cytowic), they see sounds and can smell or taste colors.
Who are some famous synesthetes? Artists, Vincent Van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, and David Hockney; musicians Leonard Bernstein and Billy Joel, scientist Richard Feynman, and actress Marilyn Monroe (to name a few).
Try playing “synesthesia” when going to an art museum. Check out point #9…
#9: Kids Museum: Be a Synesthete
With your children, pretend you are a synesthete and go to the art museum and experience each of your 5 favorite paintings using all your senses. Have each family member ask themselves:
- What does the red in the painting taste like? Orange? Brown? Green?
- What do the various shapes in the painting smell or taste like?
- If you were to put this painting to music—what piece of music would you choose?
#10: Kids Museum: Finding the Gold: The Connection Between Food and Art
When taking your kids to lunch after the museum, order a soup, a fruit or veggie salad or something with a lot of ingredients. Explain to your kids—the chef took care to make the delicious soup or salad with all the different ingredients. If making a soup or salad at home, check out these recipes that would complement the art museum experience: black bean soup and summer salad.
Similar to chefs, artists, too, spend hours of their time putting together their many “ingredients” of shapes, textures, patterns, and colors to create a beautiful painting for everyone to enjoy. And going to an art museum allows everyone to appreciate the detailed artistic talents of these talented men and women.
Make Art Come Alive!
Everything you do that day—try to relate back in some way to your museum experience. If you keep it short, sweet and to the point, your children will want to rinse and repeat the experience—I guarantee it!
Books to Help Kids & Grandkids Appreciate Going to an Art Museum
Here are some books about artists to use when preparing your child/grandchild to go to an art museum:
- The Met Vincent Van Gogh by Amy Guglielmo
- The Met Georgia O’Keeffe by Gabrielle Balkan
- Frida Kahlo by Maria Vegara
- Jackson Pollock by Mike Venezia
- Pablo Picasso by Mike Venezia
- Who Was Claude Monet by Ann Waldron
- Who Was Leonardo da Vinci by Roberta Edwards
- Sir Peter Paul Rubens by Cindy Prince