Visiting an Art Museum with children


I believe letting children see art at a young age is important. Some of my first memories are going to Galleries and Museums with my own parents. Bringing them to a Museum is also a good way to start showing them proper Museum manners. These ideas mainly apply to young children, but can easily be adapted for older children as well.

In reality your first visit may not go as you plan. They might forget the rules you put in place, but try again. I find the more you go, the more familiar and comfortable they become.

When planning your trip to a Museum make sure you go at a good time for your child, not what is a good time for you. Ex. Don't go at meltdown time...Go after a nap... Go after they have eaten.

When you check in to your Museum look into a Membership. They are usually pretty cost effective and offer discounts or reciprocity for other Museums locally and in other states. Also look into any children programs they offer like tours, classes and more.

See if your Museum offers anything for children. Our Museum offers a really cool backpack (The Discovery Pack) to check-out. It is filled with fun things to do during your visit. This is perfect for older children.

Know the Museum rules for where you are visiting. Some prohibit photography, food, etc. in certain areas.

Prepare your children for their visit. Read books about Museums, art, color, etc. before you go.

Go over your rules and expectations for visiting a Museum with your child. Small children might need to be reminded several times. I mention rules to our toddlers at least 3 times during our gallery walks. They also might do best in a stroller. Remember that short attention span! If they do well in one area, be sure to praise them for good behavior! I say, "you all are doing such a great job using walking feet today! Thank you!" Be vigilant in watching and being responsible for your child while you are there.

Some good rules to explain are:

1. Never touch the artwork. This is my number one rule. We use our eyes to look at the art. Never our hands. I still hold my 4 year olds hand. We use the buddy system! I say, "will you be my buddy? Hold my hand!" I make him responsible for me-he thinks it's fun. Before the trip we talk about why touching art is harmful-the oils on our fingertips leave marks that can ruin the artwork-not to mention the artwork can be fragile and touching could puncture a canvas. Kids can put their hands in their pockets, on their hips, even on their heads...just not on the walls, pedestals or artwork!

2. Stay 3 steps back. You will be less likely to run into trouble if you stay 3 steps back from the artwork. If you get close, they will get close. We have to try to set good examples.


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