When racking your brain for new things to do with your younger kids, many parents would have a proper chuckle at the thought of trying to tame and/or entertain any of their offspring in an art museum. Museums generally require hushed tones and they’re not allowed to touch the pictures.
However, I am a strong believer in “never know until you try” and am passionate about teaching kids to appreciate expressions of culture from a young age. So here are some suggestions if you think you may have a little budding Picasso at home or even if you would just like to try something new with the kids that gets them out of the house and away from screens.
- Kids can be temperamental – so stick to the museums with free entrance for a while in case you find yourself in the middle of a tantrum that particular day: you can leave without feeling like you’ve wasted a lot of money. Also, I’ve noticed that people in galleries are much more tolerant of having kids around when they too haven’t paid for the experience.
- On this note, it should go without saying that there does need to be some ‘museum rules’ breakdown before entering so that the kids are conscious of their behavior and know that they will have to leave if they do not keep other people’s feelings in mind. “Try use your inside voice – but ask as many questions as you want and tell me what you think about the paintings”. “No running because you might break something special”. And – the hardest one of all – “You cannot touch the pretty pictures and statues, but we can look at them for as long as we like and tell each other what we do and do not like about them”.
- Treasure Hunt – print out some pictures of artworks that you know will be in the permanent display of the museum and show them to the kids beforehand. Let them each pick one of two and tell them that you’re going to try find them today. If that museum allows photographs (check first!) you can take a picture of them holding their little picture in front of the big, real one. This will make them take a real look at all the paintings and will give them a goal to achieve.
- If your kids love to draw and paint then you can either take a sketchpad and pencils to the museum and tell them they can choose their favourite piece and sit and draw it from life. If they are truly inspired and want to paint it (or they are too young for this experiment in a museum), print out a photo for them to copy at home. Even little kids can have a go at a Jackson Pollock or a Cy Twombly! You’ll be amazed at what they can create – and they’ll love that they have their own version of the real painting they saw to hang up in their room!
Even if you need to coax them with the promise of a wonderful Afternoon Tea near Paddington as a reward for good behaviour, you never know what passions and abilities you may uncover when you take them somewhere new. There is a fabulous one if – on your search for accommodation near Paddington – you came across this amazing London hotel offer at the Devonshire Hotel, then you’ll already know all about it!