7 Tips for Visiting Museums with Kids

My sister and I have memories of being dragged to museums by our well meaning parents in New York City when we were kids. One particular trek around the Natural History Museum that lasted six hours may have left us with mild PTSD, or at least created an aversion to bringing my own children to museums.

A trip to Barcelona last summer changed this. Determined to see the Banksy exhibit in the MoCo museum, I employed a few tricks that would impress even Mary Poppins.

Eat First: It’s a good idea to grab a snack ahead of on any museum adventure, especially when you’ve got little ones in tow. Even if you have plans for a proper meal later on, munching on a light snack, particularly something with carbs, can prevent energy levels from plummeting too quickly.

Don’t aim to see it all: Gone are the days when I thought museum visits meant speed-walking through every exhibit, scrutinizing each display with a furrowed brow. These days, I’ve come to appreciate that I can spend an entire visit fixated on just one painting. Shifting my focus from breadth to depth has truly enhanced my museum experiences. My aim isn’t to conquer a museum; it’s to engage with what captivates or challenges me. I’ve instilled this mindset in my own kids as well.

Let your child take the reins of your camera phone: If your little one starts to lose interest or grow restless, hand over your phone camera to redirect their attention. They can snap photos of whatever catches their eye, or you can set them fun challenges. For instance, snap a pic of a piece of art you’d love to hang in your room, or hunt down the quirkiest face in the gallery. How about capturing three artworks that prominently feature the colour green?

Spill the artist tea: Nothing grabs a teenager’s attention quite like the juiciest tidbits about an artist’s life. Humanising the creators breathes life into their work, so take a moment to brush up on some interesting anecdotes before your visit and share them along the way. Banksy’s origin story as a secret street artist captured my son’s imagination at the MoCo.

Pack paper and pencils: There’s always a moment when someone needs a break to rest their legs. That’s the perfect time to pull out a sketchbook and some pencils. What you draw doesn’t really matter. It could be a response to a painting, a quick sketch of a sculpture, or just some doodling amidst the masterpieces of doodlers past.

Game time! Here are a few ideas:

  • Pick out the outfit from an artwork that you’d rock and the one you’d absolutely steer clear of.
  • Hunt for the most “interesting” painting/sculpture/photograph/etc. and debate why it deserves to be banished from the premises.

Lastly, no pressure—make it enjoyable! There’s no need to stay too long or attempt to hit multiple museums in a day. Treat yourselves and the kiddos to a sweet treat afterward, and chat about the experience as though it were pure fun, not a chore endured. And if museums just aren’t your thing, that’s perfectly fine! Spend your time doing what you love and pass that passion on to the little ones in your life.


Sign Up to Our Newsletter

More Travel Inspiration