virtuoso communities The World’s Coolest Museums for Kids

The World’s Coolest Museums for Kids

Virtuoso tour operators can open the door to family travel experiences of all kinds.
Virtuoso tour operators can open the door to family travel experiences of all kinds.
Photo by Getty Images
From fine art to far-off galaxies, these museums offer dedicated kid’s activities and enchant grown-ups, too.
Multigenerational travel gives families the opportunity to learn about a destination – and each other. Here, seven places where curated exhibits and interactive learning make kids feel like VIP guests.

Go Dutch

The world-renowned Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam draws travelers with its famed Van Goghs, Rembrandts, and Vermeers, and its Michelin-starred restaurant, RIJKS. It’s a great spot for children too, with daily family-focused tours, drawing lessons, and a kid-focused museum guide and puzzle book. The crowning stroke: a digital mystery-solving game. Museum director Taco Dibbits calls for adventurous families to uncover eight secrets hidden throughout the museum in an hour-long, interactive scavenger hunt. Admission: ages 18 and under get in free.

Get Creepy

In British Columbia, the Victoria Bug Zoo presents a living natural history museum, with some 40 species of huge tropical insects and arachnids. See Canada’s largest ant colony, bioluminescent scorpions, magically camouflaged walking sticks, and many more of earth’s most misunderstood creatures. Visitors can hold many of the bugs, if they like. Admission: ages 4 and under get in free; ages 5 to 17, $6.
This kid-friendly deroplatys lobata is actually a species of praying mantis, originally from southeast Asia.
This kid-friendly deroplatys lobata is actually a species of praying mantis, originally from southeast Asia.
Photo by Victoria Bug Zoo

Think Green

At Lusto, the Finnish Forest Museum, children can connect with nature in creative ways. “I loved this museum because there were umbrellas as decorations, spoons on plates that moved themselves, and truly something for everyone to enjoy,” says Virtuoso advisor Trish Mercer. A 26-foot children’s tree – complete with a treehouse in the branches and a bear den nestled below – offers different levels of play and discovery. Model chainsaws and forest machine simulators allow kids (and adults) to get a feel for the reality of forest management and resources. Admission: ages 3 and under get in free; ages 4 to 15, $6; students, $9.

Look Ahead

Think big at Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. The Tokyo complex looks to the future with participation-based exhibits ranging from cellular life to the farthest galaxies. Walk through an International Space Station replica, meet robots, observe neutrinos, and discover endless more ways to explore. From preschool scientific thinking games to an “opinion bank” for the grownups, the future is definitely ageless. Admission: ages 18 and under, $2.

Nurture the Classics

“In Denmark, I love the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art,” says Virtuoso advisor Andrew Butler. “It’s located in an idyllic waterfront setting, and families with children will love the three-story children’s wing of the museum. Free workshops allow children to paint, draw, or sculpt in the style of the museum’s featured artists.” The facility’s impressive main collection is vast, changing every few months. Admission: ages 18 and under get in free; students, $17.
In the children’s wing of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, kids can paint, draw, and sculpt in open workshops. 
In the children’s wing of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, kids can paint, draw, and sculpt in open workshops. 
Photo by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Be Natural

As Canada’s biggest natural history museum (and one of the oldest, founded in 1914), the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto welcomes young learners with a wonderland of dinosaurs, mummies, and gems. Hands-on galleries encourage children to interact with specimens galore, from holding a shark’s jaw to crawling through a fox’s den to dressing up in costumes from around the world. Admission: ages 3 and under get in free; ages 4 to 14, $14; students and ages 15 to 19, $18.
In the Royal Ontario Museum’s Discovery Gallery, kids can try on costumes from eras and cultures around the world.
In the Royal Ontario Museum’s Discovery Gallery, kids can try on costumes from eras and cultures around the world.
Photo by Royal Ontario Museum

Take up Space

“My choice is the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis,” says Virtuoso advisor Deborah Velli. This is the largest children’s museum in the world, with an inexhaustible supply of activities to entertain visitors of all ages: “There are hand-on exhibits and galleries for kids from toddlers to young teens,” says Velli. “Families can explore art, musical storytelling, dinosaurs, science, space travel, weather, culture, and history, and attend live theatrical performances with colorful costumes and characters.” The museum’s blog posts ideas to try at home, such as how to make “homemade plant-cell pizza” where pepperonis and sausages are replaced with plant-cell vocab words such as nucleus and mitochondria. Admission: ages 2 to 17, from $15 (prices increase closer to visit date).

Make Your Own Exhibit

Almost any museum can be made better or worse for children, depending on how you approach it. Virtuoso advisor Peggy Purtell suggests ways of making any museum more kid-friendly with family-focused luxury travel planners: “I have used my Virtuoso tour operatior connections to arrange scavenger hunts in the Uffizi Gallery and Louvre Museum – kids had to search for clues, like reliefs on the statues or details in paintings.”

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