“It’s never too early to visit a museum. They’re social, sensory, stimulating places – perfect for babies.”
Kids in Museums Manifesto
Before kids most of us probably didn’t appreciate just how exhausting a trip to a museum or gallery can be when you’ve got little legs in tow. Let’s be honest, gone are the days when we could read all the blurbs and muse on their meaning at our leisure. Now we’re just desperately trying to make sure no one’s licking the artwork!
But it’s so important not to be put off from making the trip because, as Arts Council England reminds us, ‘Involvement with arts and culture is crucial to imagination, self-expression and creativity in young people.‘
So, we asked our followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to tell us their top tips for surviving a family art expedition and they didn’t disappoint. Here are some crackers to help you all have the best day out possible…
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It sounds obvious, but doing a bit of research before you set off can help in lots of ways. Big exhibitions will often have a video showreel on their website, whilst smaller museums will have photos that you can explore together. Show them what they’re going to see so they can look forward to it and know what to expect.
Read up before hand so YOU get more out of it – after all, you’re there to enjoy it too! You’re not going to have much time for reading while you’re there so it can sometimes feel like you’ve missed out or not understood the art properly. If you have a bit of background on the artist and exhibition you’ll be able to appreciate it even if you are rushing around like a blue arsed fly.
And, as @peggy_richter pointed out on Instagram, ‘…it is more interesting for children if you can tell an engaging story or get their attention with some weird detail.’
DECIDE WHEN TO GO
This isn’t one that we had considered before but Eleanor from The Bristol Parent made the excellent suggestion of going after 3pm when the school trips have all gone for the day. It’s bound to be a bit quieter then and you’ll have more space for running around. And obviously if your kids aren’t in school yet, make the most of it of being able to go in term time whilst you can!
TAKE A BACK SEAT
It’s easy to drag the nippers round a museum, but they’ll be so much more engaged if they are interested in what they’re seeing. As Mr. Fox magazine says, ‘Let your children be your guide’. Let them show you what they’re interested in, locate exhibits you think they’ll like and let them run the show a bit (don’t they always?!).
Loads of our followers were fans of the Games in Museums strategy. Playing I Spy was a popular suggestion and great for getting them to really look around. On Instagram, @vanesther1 described how she now plays museum games with her kids that she enjoyed as a child, describing how it helps them connect with the exhibition more.
“Sometimes I can see they just can’t be bothered to look themselves… but when we spend time asking questions and looking for patterns, they usually find themselves getting sucked in.”
– @vanesther1 on Instagram
Basically, just turn it into one big creative adventure! On Twitter @k_atthestudio suggested making a mini ‘museum explorer pack’ – we’re thinking drawing materials, a bingo list of things to spot and most importantly, survival supplies (that’s snacks, folks!).
You could also arm them with an old camera so they can take some photos of their own, take drawing materials or make up stories about the exhibits. Make it fun and interactive!
CHECK OUT WHAT’S ON
Most museums now run family events to welcome young art lovers into their spaces. Find out what’s going on and make the most of it! It’s a great chance to get your kids used to the spaces so when you return they won’t find it a strange experience.
HARNESS THAT INSPIRATION
We found a wonderful suggestion on Condé Nast Traveler. Tell the nippers you’re searching the museum for a project to do at home and let them help you. If you see some great mosaics, create some with sugar paper later on. If they love a particular sculpture, dig out some loo rolls, get your Blue Peter on and have a go at recreating it. Or have a look at this great Red Ted Art round up of kid’s art projects inspired by the masters.
SNACKS AND OUTRIGHT BRIBERY
Some parents may be above such tactics but, to be honest, we survive on an elaborate bartering system just to make it through a normal day. So, the ‘We’ll go for cake afterwards’ promise is definitely not beneath us. And it means you get some too, right??
Quite a few people mentioned this. These nippers know when we’re uptight and anxious and play to it. Hold your head up high and roll with it. Just remember, you have just as much right to be there as anybody else, so enjoy it!
Thank you so much to everyone that gave us their top tips. If you found them useful then please share with your friends so we can fill our museums with happy arts loving nippers!
💥 BAM 💥