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5 art museum activities for kids: Hey parents, we’ve got you covered!

museum activities for kids

Krista Brock stops by today with a great post on fun and educational art museum activities for kids. I love the idea of a family museum outing on the weekend. Who knows where the creativity they see around them will inspire them to take their own careers down the road!

Why choose the museum for a family outing?

Whether you are an art aficionado or are just looking for a fun family activity on a Sunday afternoon, a visit to a nearby art museum can be a great experience for the family. Some may think of art museums as quiet, serious, cerebral places. Parents may fear that an art museum may bore their children; or they may envision their active children running recklessly through the museum wanting to touch everything that’s off limits.

However, a visit to an art museum can be a fun and engaging family outing and offers a great chance for family bonding. Additionally, learning and talking about art benefits child development in many ways, including strengthening their communication skills.

Here are a few tips on how you and your children can share the experience and unlock those benefits:

First, before setting out to the building, especially with very young children, talk to them about what they can expect and about the rules of the museum. Let them know that there will be plenty of interesting things to look at, but remind them they will not be able to touch the art.

Now onto the fun stuff!

Top art museum activities for kids:

1. Art scavenger hunt

For young children, a scavenger hunt can be a fun way to encourage them to slow down and really look at the pieces of fine art on display. If you know something about the exhibit before you go, you can create a list of things to look for in the art. If not, you can make one up on the spot.

For example, in an impressionist art exhibit, you might have children search for a boat, a dog, a parasol. For an abstract exhibit, you simply may look for a list of colors.

2. I Spy game

Young kids love playing I Spy, and an art museum with rooms full of interesting painted images and colors is a great place to play. You may play the traditional game, or give it an artistic twist. Instead of spying just a color, take turns spying items hidden in the paintings.

For another version, take turns describing a particular piece of artwork, such as a sculpture, in just one sentence. See if you can guess which piece the other is describing. This is one of many museum activities for kids that helps youngsters to practice descriptive language and listening skills.

3. Sketch in the galleries

Art museums are a great place to inspire creativity. Bring a sketchbook and colored pencils; and sit down to sketch a while. Your child can try to recreate a favorite piece of art on display, or you can encourage your child to create his or her own version of a piece of art by changing up the colors or other details.

Even if you’re not an artist, try sketching a little with your children. It will keep your child even more engaged and give you both even more to talk about together.

4. Talk about the art

The most obvious but sometimes most intimidating of the museum activities for kids is talk about the art itself. Some of us may not know quite how to start a conversation about art with our children—or anyone else for that matter. However, a discussion about art doesn’t need to be overly intellectual or analytical.

Each piece of art has three stories to tell. First is the story the art itself tells. Talk with your child about what you both see. Simply describe the piece, and then begin to talk about the story the art illustrates. Are there people at a celebration, or do you see a portrait of someone standing in the woods?

Next, there is the story of the artist. If the information is available and seems interesting, share with your child something about the artist or the creation of the artifact.

The third story is your own. Talk with your child about each of your reactions to the piece of art. You can talk about how it reminds you of something or how you like the colors. If you or your child don’t like the art, that’s fine too. Talk about why.

When talking about the art, ask your little one questions to get the conversation started, but then be sure to share your own thoughts and observations as well. Make it a conversation, not a quiz. This will be much more rewarding for both you and your child.

5. Look for family stuff already setup there

Many art galleries have programs or classes for children and families, starting as young as toddlers. Museum activities for kids may include:

  • Guided tour
  • Discussion in a particular gallery
  • Class that includes an art activity

Some museums also host children’s days or family nights where they have several sensory activities and projects for children to engage in alongside their parents.

Also, some larger museums have a children’s room or an open art room where anyone can come draw or create any time. Be sure to find out what your museum has for you and your kids.

Final thoughts on art museum activites for kids

As a parent, we all know children can be unpredictable. If your visit to an exhibition doesn’t go as well as you hoped, try it again another day. Also, as an art instructor at the Dallas Museum of Art once told a group of mothers with toddlers, a successful museum visit doesn’t have to be a long visit. Look for free or discounted museum days to share with your young children, so you don’t feel pressured to stay and “get your money’s worth.” Enjoy a short visit, and come back another day.

About today’s writer

Krista Brock has spent the past 11 years writing and editing professionally while dabbling in creative projects on the side. Six and a half years ago she also took on the role of motherhood. Now, she’s combining all of her expertise and experience on her new blog and will release her first picture book this fall.

4 thoughts on “5 art museum activities for kids: Hey parents, we’ve got you covered!”

  1. Those are all great ideas for ways to spend time with children in an art museum. We are fortunate in Houston. Except for having to pay for parking, every Thursday is a free day at our Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for all of the regular exhibits. A restaurant is also on site.

    Bayou Bend, which is a mansion in River Oaks with large landscaped grounds (another part of the MFAH) also has free family days with lots of interactive displays and entertainment for family members of all ages.

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