Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Museums With Kids: My Top 5 Tips for Taking Small Children

Contemplating at the McNay
This is the first post in my new series, "Museums With Kids". We are so grateful to be in a museum filled city and located close to the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Briscoe Western Art Museum, and our favorite, the McNay Art Museum. (Note: At all 3 of these museums, admission for children 12 and under is FREE. The McNay is now offering FREE admission for Teens!) We frequent these museums as much as possible, visiting at least one on a weekly basis. The San Antonio Museum of Art and the Briscoe Western Art Museum offer free admission every Tuesday from 4-9 pm and we try to take advantage of this as much as possible. I find that at 4pm, the museums and parking are very manageable, especially with three small children.
Our museum outings can be brief, "Hey lets go look at Marcus Aurelius" (a sculpture at the SA Museum of Art), etc. or we can explore our favorite works and then maybe a new to us section of a museum. It all depends on the time of day, the mood of my little audience, and what we want to do.

There are a 5 Top ways I manage three small children inside a museum.
1) Have a snack on the way
2) Have behavior expectations. My children have been going to museums and are usually well behaved. Note that this did not happen overnight, they had to be taught what level to speak at and that we absolutely cannot touch the artwork. Fortunately for me, they were so shocked at the loud alarm in the Greek Sculpture Gallery at the San Antonio Museum of Art (set of by an adult, not my kids, actually) that they don't dare get too close! I walk extremely near to my children in these settings, as our voices are lower and I can better contain wandering hands.
3) Everyone gets a sticker!
4) Know the Rules. Some museums allow babies to be in back carriers, others allow front baby carriers only. No sippy cups hanging out of diaper bags, etc. Just be mindful, and if you do happen to do something not allowed, usually a nice docent will let you know. But just in case, ask! Also, its nice to lock your bags and hats up in a locker (the McNay has small lockers).
5) Enjoy! Museum visits don't have to be completely serious and dry. Make up a story about a work of art! Talk about colors and shapes! Let the child pick what work to look at next.

Going to a museum for free is a great way to get kids used to going, and if you have to leave more quickly than you would like, its ok! Consider it training for the next visit.
Also, some museums have items to keep kids engaged! The Briscoe has awesome "Buckaroo Bags" with different themes such as "Campfire", "Grub", etc. My kids love the campfire one and enjoy setting it up in different parts of the museum! The San Antonio Museum of Art has "Activity Backpacks" for ages 6 and up available for checkout.

What is your favorite museum? Let me know in the comments. Have a great next visit at your favorite museum!

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