Confession: I used to fear the art museum! It may sound silly, but I was convinced that my little ones’ potential for disruption and destruction of the peaceful ( and pricey!) atmosphere was more trouble that it was worth.
In fact, for quite awhile after having children I felt intimdated taking them to many seemingly “adult” places – worried that they wouldn’t enjoy themselves and, in turn, no one else would be able to enjoy themselves either (it’s hard to contemplate a Salvador Dali painting with “I want cookies!” being screamed over and over in the background). I understand now that I was wrong to think that these places were simply off-limits until my kids were old enough to appreciate them. I’ve realized that it’s my job to help them gain an appreciation through positive experiences at the museum.
That may sound like quite a task! But with a little prep work, you can createa fun and rewarding museum outting (without dirty looks from childless strangers). Try these simple tips before you go and it will make all the difference!
1 – Expose Your Little Ones To Great Art
This is easier than it sounds! You don’t need Degas hanging in your living room or Manet prints on your bathroom towels (though that would be totally cool) – you just need a library card. There’s a wide array of children’s books that will get your kids excited about art. Here’s one of our favorites:
“Make Van Gogh’s Bed” by Julie Appel
This is such a neat concept! You and your children get to “jump in” to great works of art with this awesome book. Each page features a different artist and a different “hands-on” way to experience their famous paintings. This is one of four in the “Touch The Art” series and I love them all. Be sure to check out “Pop Warhol’s Top”, “Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair” and “Feed Matisse’s Fish” as well!
2 – Let Playtime Be Your Practice
Spend an afternoon with your little ones painting, modling and drawing your own works of art. Then display them around the house and have your family pretend they are visiting a museum, so that they can practice appropriate behavior and get a feel for the experience. Take turns giving tours, discussing what you like in each “piece” and gently guiding them through museum ettiquette.
3 – Get Your Game On
Use online resources to find small pictures of some of the artwork on display at the museum you’ll be visiting. Print them off, cut them out and glue them into a little notebook for your children. Then tell them that they are Art Detectives, assigned to “hunt down” the paintings and sculptures pictured. Have incentives and prizes for those who keep the “rules of the game” – no running, shouting, touching the artwork, etc. Even your littlest ones will enjoy spoitting the life-size vesions of the pictures in their notebook.
Take it from someone who used to fear the museum trip – these actitvities are helpful, effective, and fun! With the right preparation, you and your tinys can have a great expereince at the museum.