making the most of a museum

making the most of a museum with kidsTo help our young kids engage with trips to museums that could be overwhelming, I’d create a scavenger hunt of about 5 items of different kinds that might interest them. This project takes a little planning, research, and computer know-how, but if you’re going to have kids tag along to a museum and fear spending the day in the café, this could be your ticket to a pleasant outing.
Many museums have this kind of thing available for families, but you can make your own specific to your kids. Choose pieces that contain subjects or images that your child likes. Dogs? Dragons? Fashion? Horses? Ballerinas? Swords?  A piano with crazy inlays? Mummies? Get pictures of each piece either off the web or from catalogs, and print them on a piece of paper. Add the title, artist, medium (e.g. oil painting on canvas, bronze sculpture) and date.  You can learn about each item together in advance, and then when you go to the museum, they will be primed to look for the items and find things on their list.

Another option: If you know of a particular painting that has a lot going on, such as a city scene or landscape painting, you can make a list of things for kids to find — or details to look for — within a single piece.  Think “Where’s Waldo?” or Hidden Pictures. A memorable trip for me was to the MFA here in Boston, where my kids spent a very-long-time-even-for-an-adult searching a Japanese screen of a scene from medieval Kyoto for dogs, shamisen, babies, a castle, different hairdos, long, layered kimonos and short summer yukatas, horses, drums, rivers, and swords! -t

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