Travels With Ted

Visiting Museums with Young Kids

Fitzwilliam Museum Visiting museums with young kids

Visiting museums with young kids is tough. Even when you do manage to engage them, you still spend most of your time chasing after them to prevent them from destroying the exhibits and the other patrons days.

So why do we persevere with visiting museums with young kids? For me, it’s about finding things that they find exciting and discovering their interests. Under fours have a fantastic capacity for absorbing information to it’s our responsibility to feed that early. Plus there’s a chance we might get to enjoy it.

Most importantly, it can be a fun family time. Here are my tips for making sure the whole family have a good time visiting museums with young kids:

1. Activities Provided by the  Museum

Scott Polar Museum
Scott Polar Museum

Most museums we have visited in the UK have provided activities for children to do as they walk around. This is nothing new but activities that require a lot of reading and writing aren’t really suitable for young children. However, more seem to be providing age-appropriate activities for under fours. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge recently provided us with a story bag for the one-year-old. At The Fitzwilliam Museum, they even have floor mats for tiny babies.

2. Treasure Hunts

Museum Archaeology and Anthropology Treasure Hunt Visiting Museums with young kids
Museum Archaeology and Anthropology Treasure Hunt

Another activity often provided by the museum is a treasure hunt. We’ve done a few of these recently. At one, we were given a laminated card with a picture of something to go off and find. This works well in a small museum but can be a bit tricky in a large museum, especially if you don’t know it well enough to guide your child to the item.

If you don’t know if the museum you intend to visit provides something like this and you are feeling industrious, you could knock up a treasure hunt of your own. Simply visit the museum’s website and copy and paste a few pictures.

3. Take Advantage of Outside Space

There are lots of museums with outside space to enjoy. Some local museums to us include the Museum of East Anglian Life and the Farmland Museum. I would also include Botanical Gardens in this list.

4. Taking Pictures

Fitzwilliam Museum
Fitzwilliam Museum

When our four-year-old gets bored of looking around, we have a tactic to bring him back to the room. We give him a camera, usually an old phone or one of ours, and give him free rein. The result is often a random selection of pictures that might include some of what you’ve come to see. There will also be many pictures of the floor, walls and ceiling.

We found this tip very useful when visiting the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

5. Seek Out Children’s Museums

There are many museums dedicated to making visiting museums with young children easy. They do this by making children the focus of their activities and exhibitions. Some examples that spring to mind are the Museum of Childhood in London and the Cambridge Science Centre.

Do you have any tip for visiting museums with young kids? I would love to hear them.

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10 thoughts on “Visiting Museums with Young Kids

  1. As a mum with an almost 3 year old and a love and respect for history and art, I can’t thank you enough for the great advice shared here. I’m planning on taking my son to lots of museums, so this post has been really helpful.

  2. I work with children with special needs. In my work, we take them to museums and art galleries during the holiday clubs. Sometimes they are completely bored out of their heads. I will try some of these things to keep them interested for sure.

  3. Great tips to stop them getting bored and restless! Spud loves the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, which has the most incredible kids exhibition. Naturally he prefers to look at pistons from old steam trains instead!

  4. My children are ‘perfect museum’ age now, being 12 and 10, but we’ve always taken them to museums. I can’t recall ever having any major issues with them when they were younger – but then I wouldn’t have taken them to ‘quiet’ museums and galleries, as they are not my thing. It’s good to take them though – my two love visiting museums.

  5. Top tips here and this is a great way to kep kids busy while they are learning. Cost effective too xx

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