Making Museum Trips Fun with Young Children
I am a big fan of taking kids to the museum at any age. Adjust your expectations and you are sure to have a great time and give your children a wonderful introduction to culture.
Living in Amsterdam, we have the most amazing selection of museums on our doorstep. The hardest part for us is choosing which to visit. Do you have some museums you can visit in your local area?
1. Preparation before you go
Start to read books at home about artists and famous paintings.
Here are some of our favourites:
1. Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew (or any in the series)
2. A Child’s Book of Art: Great Pictures First Words by Lucy Micklethwait
3. The Little Rijksmuseum published by Querido – a first word book drawing out images from famous paintings
2. Start at the museum shop
We like to head straight to the museum shop and the children are allowed to choose 2 postcards to buy. Then we hunt for these paintings during our visit.
3. Ask at the information desk
There is often a treasure hunt for children prepared by the museum. These may be for older children, but can also give you some ideas what to point out to younger visitors. For older children, there are sometimes audio tours for kids.
4. Follow your child
Let your child set the pace and follow their interests. Your expectations should be different when visiting a museum with a young child. They will move quickly and you definitely will not have time to read all the descriptions.
5. Play “I spy”
For example, “I spy with my little eye, a tiger!” With games like this you can encourage your child to spot some fun things in the artworks like:
▪ boys or girls
▪ interactive exhibits
Children love trying to find dogs or cats in old paintings. Or how young children dressed. Or bright colours used in modern art. You could even make a checklist for children who can read to find during their visit
6. Keep your visit short
Stay for around an hour, or until your child has had enough. Here is Amsterdam you can buy a Museum card for entrance into many museums for free – perhaps you have something similar in your area. What is great about these cards is you can pop into a museum for a short visit, but can back as often as you like.
My favourite museums in The Netherlands with kids
If you are ever in Europe visiting The Netherlands, here are my favourite museums for children:
1. Van Gogh museum – fun “speurtocht” (treasure hunt)
2. Stedelijk museum – modern art museum with lots of space to explore and the new building provides lots of visual interest for little ones, for example, round peek-a-boo windows and the tunnel escalator to the basement.
3. Escher museum (in the Hague) – for lots of optical illusion fun
4. Tropenmuseum – a recent petition has stopped it’s imminent closure. Lots of hands-on exhibits
I hope you are inspired to get out and make a visit to the museum with your little one. Allow time, follow your child, and have fun!