As a creative mom, you want to get your kids exposed to culture at a super early age, and art museums offer opportunities galore for your little one to learn, make discoveries and explore her creative side. But bringing your toddler around priceless works of art is a little terrifying. Before you nix the trip (for fear that your tot will reach out and touch everything in sight), we’ve got a few tips that just might take the fear out of your family’s museum visit.
1. Respect the uniform. You know how your little one totally obeys the crossing guard or a police officer because she’s wearing a uniform? Well, lucky for you, the museum has its own brand of uniformed guards — security guards, that is. They’ll be more than happy to go over the museum’s rules with your tot or point out (and, rather quickly) when your two-year-old is getting too close to a painting or anything that’s “Do Not Touch.”
2. Shadow play. In a perfect world, your toddler sits silently in her stroller as you leisurely walk through the museum’s galleries. But in your real life, she melts down when you try to strap her into the seat. Don’t stress. She can walk through the space, without making a break for it. Play the “shadow game.” Your child must shadow you, following every move you make. Get silly and take short strides or walk while snapping your fingers lightly (even though she probably can’t make a “snap” motion, she can still try to mimic you).
3. Short bursts. Toddlers aren’t exactly known for their great attention spans. Map out your museum plan before you even walk through the admissions line. Go online, or use your memory from the last trip you made to the museum and create breaks. Base your mini-breaks on what you already know about your child’s attention span. What can you do on these breaks? Visit the gift shop, head outside to the museum’s sculpture garden or have a snack in the café.
4. Hold hands. Yes, holding your child’s hand as you walk through the museum’s galleries is a complete no-brainer. Why would you not do this? It keeps her near you and her hands away from the art. But, your child doesn’t necessarily need to stay tethered to you for the entire trip. Instead of always holding your hand, she can hold her own. Show her how to clasp her hands together. This allows her to walk without your help, while keeping her fingers away from the Van Goghs, Monets and Picassos.
5. Sell the story. Art tells a story. Now it’s your job to sell it! Make the art come alive for your child. Ask her what she sees going on in the paintings. Take the words she uses, and help her to create a story. Don’t stress if she is keeping mum. Toddlers aren’t always verbal enough to fully explain what they’re thinking, feeling or seeing. With that in mind, you may need to give your pint-sized art viewer a few hints or create a story of your own. Tell the tale of the artwork in much the same way that you would read a picture book — with total enthusiasm!
What’s your favorite art museum to take your child to? Share your pick with us on Twitter @BritandCo!