Virtuoso Life July 2017 How To: Visit Museums with Kids

How To: Visit Museums with Kids

Rules of engagement at MoMa. 
Rules of engagement at MoMa. 
Photo by Tomas Abad/Alamy
Raising a museum-loving kid takes patience – and a focus on fun and creativity. “My son has been to six continents, and I’m always surprised at what sticks with him,” says Piedmont, California-based Virtuoso agency owner Amie O’Shaughnessy. “But you can’t always expect über-engagement. It’s still exposure, and exposure creates flexibility in kids.” Here, two advisors (and moms) from her agency weigh in on how to avoid museum malaise with young children. 

The Pro: Sandy Pappas, Atlanta

Special snacks: “Bring something that’s really a treat for the kid. My daughter still talks about when I gave her Skittles at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. I passed them out Hansel and Gretel-style as we moved among the galleries.” 

Detective work: “Before you start, hit the museum gift shop to buy postcards of artwork. The kids can be on the lookout for those pieces as you tour.”

Favorite stop: “Register far in advance for the kids’ programming at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York City. My kids did a great digital photography workshop – and it was free.” 

Dino-might at The Field Museum.
Dino-might at The Field Museum.
Photo by Richard Ellis/Alamy

The Pro: Nicole Wiltrout, Indianapolis
Visit all types: “You need variety: It helps children explore many interests, such as art, science, and history. Go beyond children’s museums, but be mindful of age and appropriateness. A 2-year-old can’t sit still and be quiet for a long time.” 

The first stop: “Stop at the information desk first. The staff can tell you which exhibits are best for your children’s age groups.”

Book a guide: “When kids reach school age, investing in a great, family-focused guide makes sense, especially at huge museums such as the Louvre and the British Museum.” 

Bring props: “It gives kids something to do, but it also helps them develop observation skills. My kids got sketch pads at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and happily spent time re-creating her work in each gallery. They now recognize her paintings when they see them.” 

Get outside: “Structure a museum visit by spending time inside right when it opens, then find the outdoor gardens or a nearby park for playtime. Spend the morning at London’s Natural History Museum, for instance, followed by an afternoon at Hyde Park.”