Everyone looks for quick trips to take with children in the summer, but most people quickly pass over the idea of taking the kids to an art museum. An art museum is a great trip for even the youngest children, and there are art museums virtually everywhere, many of which allow children to visit for free or reduced rates.
Here are a few tips for making the most out of a trip to the museum:
Infants: Believe it or not, even the youngest infant will benefit from a trip to the museum. Viewing the colors, contrast, and lines will encourage brain stimulation and foster brain development. It is also important to talk to infants while showing them paintings and sculptures. Expose them to art vocabulary, just as you would expose them to any other vocabulary. This does not mean that you have to know anything about art, talk about the colors you see, what is happening in the paintings, how shiny or smooth the sculpture is. A trip to the museum with an infant is about building your relationship with the infant, as much as it is about the art. Look into the programming that your local museum offers, some even have programs specifically for infants and their parents, where you can experience the art with other infants and parents.
Toddlers: The tips for listed above for infants also apply for toddlers, but toddlers are mobile and they love to touch everything. This is how they experience their world, but not always acceptable at an art museum. You want to make sure that you have prepared your child for this experience. This is something that you can practice at home. Have your child help you create simple drawings and hang them on the walls, then model how your child can walk up close and look, but remind them not to touch. Practice more than once, make it a fun game. This way, when you do go to the museum your child will understand that they are not supposed to touch, and you will enjoy the experience without worry.
Preschoolers: A preschooler with be able to have appreciation for the art that you see at the museum. Encourage them to talk about how the art makes them feel – is it a happy piece? Why do they think it is happy? What do they think the artist was thinking about when he or she was creating this piece? Their answers might surprise you. A preschooler is also likely to be inspired to create their own art after a trip to the museum. Make sure to stock up on art supplies before your trip so that you can come home and create with your child. Their creations may not be directly related to the pieces that they saw at the museum, but you can still talk about the process, and consider choosing a piece that they have created to frame and hang in their room, to help them understand that their art is important and valued too.