Good to Go: Field Guides to the Arts for Parents

A Parents’ Field Guide to Museums

Everything you need to know so you're good to go to a museum!

Before Your Visit

Here are some tips to minimize the fuss and maximize the fun of your museum-going experience.

Before you even leave home...

•  Make a plan. Check the museum’s Web site for hours, exhibit descriptions, and tour and dining options. With your family decide in advance which exhibits are must-sees.

•  Dress thoughtfully. Wear comfortable shoes! Be prepared for lots of walking and standing.

•  Arrive early. Museums are less crowded in the mornings and kids are less cranky.

At the Museum

Okay, you've gotten everyone to the museum, now what?

•  Use the cloakroom. Most museums have them, so check your coats, umbrellas, and packages.

•  Map your route. Grab a museum map. If you’re visiting with younger kids, plan to visit their chosen exhibit first. Let older kids navigate. Note bathroom locations. 

•  Take the tour. Depending on the exhibit and the age of your kids, consider joining a tour. A knowledgeable, enthusiastic tour guide can make exhibits come alive. Also check times for live demonstrations and movies.

•  Go with the flow. Allow your kids to discover what interests them, even if it’s not on the schedule. Ask questions to stir their imaginations and keep them focused.

•  Mix it up. At the first sign of restlessness, take a meal or snack break. Or look for hands-on activities. Many museums have interactive exhibits and games designed to keep kids entertained.    

•  Save the gift shop for last. If souvenir-buying is on your must-do list, make the gift shop your final stop. Set spending limits. Encourage your kids to buy items that relate to the exhibits they saw.

At Home

Deepen your museum experience through discussion and at-home activities.

•  Build excitement. Prepare your kids for their museum visit by sharing books and video related to the exhibit. A trip to the natural history museum, for instance, could begin with a picture book about dinosaurs, or a DVD about ancient civilizations.

•  IMHO. After your visit, urge your kids to share their impressions of the museum. What were their favorite parts? What cool facts did they learn? What would they like to know more about? If they could meet (or be) any person featured in the museum, who would it be?         

•  Keep the flames burning. Encourage your kids to continue learning and having fun through museum-related activities, including  simple science experiments, art and crafts projects, star-gazing, fossil hunting, and animal watching.  



Amy Dunkleberger
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Doug Cooney

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