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How To Take Your Kid To A Museum That’s Not For Kids

flickr / Tyler Merbler

Children’s museums are great. But they’re probably some of the least fun you can have as a parent. Half the time you’re trying to referee the impending fist fight at the water table. The other half you’re judging other parents and trying to make sure your kid doesn’t put something in their mouth that’s been coated in norovirus.

You know where these problems don’t exist? Regular non-kid museums. You know why? Because parents are freaked out that their handsy, noisy, insanely curious kid isn’t ready. But, they are ready. And so are you. It’s time to learn how to take your kid to a non-kid museum.

Your Kid’s Brain On Museums

Around the 1-year mark, the development of your kid’s cognitive functioning is really cooking. This, then, is an amazing time to get them into a novel environment to have a unique experience that will fire up new pathways in the brain.

Museums appear to be all about absorbing new and interesting facts. But for your young kid, a museum is more about having engaging social and environmental interactions that challenge their developing perspective of the world.

So rest assured that every museum is a children’s museum if you do it right. Don’t worry about disturbing other patrons. Just tell those beatniks at the MOMA to get over themselves already. Art and science are for everyone.

How To Make The Most Out Of Museums

While the advice for going to a museum should simply be, “Go through the front door. The end,” there are some ways you can really squeeze the most out of a museum trip with your future aesthete.

Start Them Young

Your kid can benefit from a museum, be it art or natural history, pretty much as soon as they’re able to focus their eyes. Though that doesn’t matter too much when holding them in front of an impressionist painting, honestly.

Give Good Expectations

Before you head out to the museum, make sure your kid knows what’s going down. And then remind them repeatedly on the way there. Lean into the big 2. No touching. No running. Most of the other stuff can be figured out when you get there. Like not using any urinals signed R. Mutt.


Before you hit the local elevator museum or whatever, make sure you know what to expect. Most of these joints will have websites where you can take a look at the exhibits before you go. This research helps you figure out which pieces your kid will dig. That will help you plan your trip and keep them away from the more gruesome crucifixion scenes.

Keep It Short

Your kid probably won’t be able to last in the exhibits for more than a couple of hours. Your strategy should be “stick and move.” Find something they dig. Talk it over a bit. Ask them what they see or notice. Then move on. No need to read about it or try and explain.

Find The Animals And Dinosaurs

You can turn the trip into a kind of scavenger hunt by helping your kid look for animals and creatures they think are cool. If they bring along a stuffed animal or toy to match to the exhibit, all the better.

Take Breaks

Keep your pulse on your kid’s interest level. When it appears to be dipping, move along. If you need to, hit a bench or the cafe area and let them fuel up before moving on. But whatever you do, don’t force the situation. The idea is to make the museum fun, not a chore.

If you play your cards right, you’ll never step into a children’s museum again. In fact, just don’t. Have your partner take the bullet on that one.