Note: 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 below:
Click here to access the YouTube video: How to Make Art Museums for Kids the Best Places on Earth
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!
It doesn’t have to be. Follow these 10 simple steps and you’re on your way to “art-museum-with-your-children-success!”
Visiting Art Museums With Kids: 10 Points to Make it a Smashing Success!
#1: 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—Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollack, and others.
Show your children their artwork and ask them questions:
- 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: Keep it to One Hour
Tell your children that you will only be staying at the art museum for one hour—that’s it. So, you have to make the most of every minute. That requires having a plan in place that includes: Museum, Museum Bookstore, Lunch. Yes, it’s as simple as 1-2-3!
#3: 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 you kids are looking at something and pressing a button. It should be interactive. If it’s not—leave and start looking at the paintings.
#4: Divide and Conquer
If your husband is going—divide your kids between both parents; look at your watches and agree to meet back at exactly one hour in the museum bookstore. Taking one or two of your kids’ friends along is a good idea (sometimes not).
#5: 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: Find Your 5 Faves!
Go to different sections of the museum. Quickly look at all the paintings, sculptures, etc. in each room. Your child is to find 5 paintings they like. They may find them in the same section of the museum, but they may not and you will have to visit other sections (which is more fun anyway). Have them write down in their notebooks the following:
- name of the painting
- name of the artist
- date it was painted
- where it is found in the museum.
Next, they are to write down a couple of sentences why they like it and why it appeals to them. For instance:
- What specifically do they like about the painting? The colors? The subject matter?
- What feelings do they have when looking at it?
- Do they know anything about the artist?
Last—which of the five paintings is his/her favorite and why? Each person should be prepared to share their favorites with the family.
#7: Treasures in the Museum Bookstore
Meet together in the museum bookstore. If possible, purchase an inexpensive print or even 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.
Here are 3 bonus tips to make your art museum experience with your child–spectacular! 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: 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, 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: 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: Finding the Gold: The Connection Between Food and Art
When taking your kids to lunch after the museum, order a soup or salad or something with a lot of ingredients. Explain to your kids—it took loving care to make the delicious soup or salad with all the different ingredients. 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. Going to an art museum allows everyone to appreciate the detailed artistic talents of the artists.
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!