Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How To Turn Your Child Onto Museums, Guaranteed

I have devised a foolproof strategy on going to museums with children that I absolutely have to share with you. It will revolutionize your vacations, and I'm not kidding.

Just to recap, I have a seven year old boy whose passions run more to aliens and baseball than to medieval portraits or decorative art. No surprise there.

But Luca and I went to five museums in London, and aside from a slight miscalculation in the Textile Study Room at the V&A Museum (read my last post), he had the time of his life, as he will be the first to tell you.

How did I manage to pull off such a feat? Easy.

1. The moment you step foot inside a museum, head directly to the gift shop. If your child is normal, they will instantly start grabbing toys. Don't panic. Let them choose one or two. Tell them these will be their "prize."

2. Next, steer them to the postcard section. Let them pick out a bunch of postcards which feature artworks in the museum.

3. Hand your child his stack and announce that "the TREASURE HUNT begins now!" They must locate the work of art represented on the postcard and once they do, they can turn the card over to you. When the stack is gone, they have officially earned the prize they picked out earlier.

If they are old enough to read a museum map, all the better. Otherwise, the guards stationed in each gallery are more than happy to help with directions.

Important note: If there are some rooms/artworks that you specifically want to see, be sure to buy some postcards of your own and 'sneak' them into his pile.

I can't tell you how many stressed-out parents we passed trying to interest their sullen, foot-dragging children in the glories of [insert art history period here]. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and say, "Look! Postcards! Treasure hunt! It works! We've been here for an hour and he's still smiling!"

Here are some of the postcards I now have from our various treasure hunts:

And here are two of the prizes Luca earned:

If anyone had told me that my son would be grabbing my elbow and shouting, "Mom! We need to find the Elizabethan Portrait Room!" I would have told them they seriously needed to 'up' their medication.

Let me know how it goes.

22 comments:

CashmereLibrarian said...

Funny! I devised my own method, here: http://chezlavie.blogspot.com/2009/01/appreciating-art-unorthodox-method-for.html.

yes, postcards are key!

TreadUpon68 said...

I so wish I'd known this two weeks ago when we attempted to drag our three year old through DC. Oh well, the Butterfly Pavillion was a hit.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Lisa - this is great advice. We went to our local museum over spring break and I find "we" do much better (me and my three boys) if I let them lead and don't try to teach too much. Fortunately, our museum provides a packet of cards for just such a treasure hunt - for free! I like the idea of go to the gift shop first and pick the prize. That's a good one.

The Bean said...

That's a great idea! I almost bought that same chopping block executioner thing at the Tower of London! Sadly, it was for me, not for a kid.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

My husband worked in an art museum for years and has been reading your museum posts with much interest.

Christine said...

Positively brilliant!

AlwaysMe said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am excited to try your advice on our next museum visit. I am sending a link to a friend who is taking her twin 6 year old boys to Europe in May. I am sure she will be grateful for your suggestions.

royalapothic said...

absolutely brilliant!!!!

columnist said...

You're so clever! I don't have children, but I'm sure it works a treat. And your son will probably pick up a latent interest that will serve him well as he matures. Brilliant!

Lee said...

What a fantastic strategy that ensures a great time for both parents & children. I am going to try this the next time I visit a museum with my 11 year old son. One of the most useful parenting tips I have heard in a long, long time!

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa...

At this point in my life it will be my eventual grandchildren that I take to museums...at which point I will definitely use your wonderful treasure hunting plan.

it is grand

JMW said...

Great idea! Our daughter enjoys going to the museum, but we often have to go to the kids' area (ArtSparks) first. Will definitely have to try this tactic.

Leslie said...

What great ideas! I'm a docent at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and love hearing ways to encourage children to enjoy museums. Thank you for sharing your museum adventures!

Joslyn said...

brilliant! totally!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Such genius. I told my husband last evening of your brilliant idea for getting your son through the Tower of London smoothly, and we both agreed....just genius! Luca is lucky!

Suzy said...

You might just be a genius!

pve design said...

Scavenger hunts, egg hunts, art escapades, safaris are all part of keeping one excited from age 1 to 92.
This sort of reminds of "Cracker Jacks" - or "Bazooka" and the little trinkets or cartoons inside.
Keeping it fun is what it's all about.

Style Court said...

Lisa -- I love this. Hunts of all kinds (like looking for something specific within a painting) are popular in the education departments at so many museums. At the High we had a map just for kids. Anyway, love that you do this on your own. Brilliant.

Mr. Peacock said...

Fantastic posting!
I remember going to the museum with my mother...the lure was a treat at the cafe afterwards, which was at the end of the museum.

The Terrier and Lobster said...

What a fantastic idea! I'm an art historian, and I think this idea might help adults who don't like museums as well!

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:perennial: said...

I love this idea. I will be testing it out soon and I will tell you how it goes.
Carol

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