Making museums fun with kids is one way to ensure visiting such places whilst on holidays is indeed fun. The fact of the matter is, kids have a limited attention span and even adults can only take in so much history or number of exhibits. Well, with a little creative thinking and modifying your own expectations you can be assured all members of your family get the most out of a museum visit.
Here are my top tips for making museums fun with kids
Visit free museums more than once
If time allows, visit free museums multiple times as this is a great way to see more. When visiting London, we went to the National History Museum twice as well as the National Gallery. We paid our donation (twice) but it was well worth it. Visit different exhibits, stay a short time, and you will feel you get much more out of it.
Go whilst the baby (or toddler) naps
Have a babe in a sling or toddler in the pram? Schedule your visit when you know they might lull off to sleep and bam…. walk around at your leisure. Sadly, for us these days are gone but it’s well worth it for those travelling with little ones.
Show your children artwork before you go
Before planning a visit to the Louvre in Paris, we showed our children some of the famous artwork we were taking them to see. We showed them pictures online, and our daughter even knew the painting ‘The Wedding at Cana’ from her lessons at school. Children have a better response if they recognise a particular artwork or exhibition piece. Making your kids hunt them out is a great way to explore the museum. Especially if you are paying for museum entry, little strategies to keep them on task is a great idea.
Get organised – Jump the line!
Popular museums equal long lines. If you can plan ahead, I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance and getting “jump the line” tickets. We purchased Louvre – Skip the Line tickets from Get Your Guide and it was fabulous to line up for eight minutes to get in, rather than queuing up for potentially hours!
Parents take turns
If you are going to a museum or gallery and your spouse, partner or other adult friend really really really wants to see something, then make it one of your priorities. Either see it first, or work out a way for them to go and see the exhibition alone. In the meantime wrangle the children elsewhere. Don’t let resentment creep in about not seeing what you wanted to see just because of a lack of planning.
Whilst we were in Bath, England I was absolutely determined to visit the Jane Austen Centre. We discussed going as a family but when the time came, my husband decided he would take the kids to a neighbouring park (which happened to have a market with great children’s stalls). It meant I had an hour to myself.
The same was applied when we did the Lords Cricket Tour. We went as a family but I dealt with any toilet trips, conversations and distractions as my husband is the cricket fan and really wanted to absorb it all.
Setting realistic goals is probably the most common sense advice for all families that travel. I realised this when we left the Louvre after only about 2 hours, and I felt a little disappointed. Then I read somewhere that if you spent 30 seconds at every piece in the museum, it would take you about 5 years to see it all. I felt a bit better. Two hours was a great achievement for our family.
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Do you have tips that help your family get the best out of museums & galleries on your holidays?