Tips for Visiting Art Museums with Kids

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Every trip to Paris should include a visit to an art museum, even with kids! We visited several art museums in Paris and the kids thoroughly enjoyed each one. Ellie, who was just seven, might have loved them most! I’m not exaggerating either. These tips for visiting art museums with kids will help kids appreciate them more, whether in Paris, France or Paris, Kentucky.

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3 Tips for Visiting Art Museums with Kids

1. Learn about the art ahead of time.

Before we traveled, we covered the places we would see, like Sainte Chapelle. And, we explored the most famous pieces at Paris’ art museums online. We wanted our kids to know what to expect when we traveled.

When our daughter saw the pieces in real life, she got excited. It’s one thing to see the Mona Lisa on a screen or in a book, but it’s entirely different to see it in real life! She spouted off facts about each piece we had studied and really felt “big” to know more than her brothers sometimes!

Bottom right photo is Ellie's reaction to seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time!
Bottom right photo is Ellie’s reaction to seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time!

2. Take your time exploring the pieces that interest you most. You don’t need to see it all!

The sheer size of the Louvre makes exploring everything impossible. Throw in the rest of Paris’ art museums and you could spend your entire life there.

Instead these tips for visiting art museums with kids are to explore the pieces that most intrigue you (they may not be the most famous pieces in the museum) and walk past the rest. When kids can focus on what interests them, they’ll remember the experience. However, when they’re forced to study the “important” pieces, they may grow to resent art, not appreciate it.

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Ben was thoroughly engrossed by this piece at the Centre Georges Pompidou

 3. Make it fun!

The photos of Ellie (above) capture our daughter perfectly. She’s funny and expressive! Allowing her to imitate statue poses or “ponder” the deep intricacies of modern art kept her engaged. As we covered miles of museums, we found humor in much of it. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the significance of ancient or modern art or everything in between. We simply enjoyed the moments of inspiration triggered by various pieces!

And that is the heart of these tips for visiting art museums with kids. It’s OKAY to misinterpret a piece of art now and then… It’s about how a piece captures you, not about stuffy reverence (Of course, do be respectful of other museum-goers).

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Somewhere I wrote down what this piece really is, but our first impression was, “WOW! I’m glad watches got smaller!”

After a day of museums, we collapsed into our seats on the metro and headed back to our apartment. I expected Ellie to fall asleep, but she surprised me (and a whole lot of other metro passengers) when she exclaimed, “Look, Mom! I made modern art!”

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A year later, she still says, “Remember when we saw Venus de Milo at the Louvre and I looked just like her?” I’m thrilled that she remembers, and not just that, but that she remembers it fondly!

Have you explored an art museum with kids? What are your favorite tips for visiting art museums with kids and making it fun ~ and memorable?