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How to Visit an Art Museum with Kids

by Anna Harpe
July 17, 2023
Parent and child at art museum

Our top 3 best tips for how to visit an art museum with kids. Plus, a free printable scavenger hunt to make your visit even more fun!

A visit to an art museum with kids can be a meaningful and worthwhile experience, but let’s be real here.  The idea of taking your rowdy crew into a gallery full of priceless treasures?  It takes more than a little bravery!

Luckily, a little bit of preparation can go a long way here, transforming a stressful situation into a good time for everyone.  Follow these simple tips to save your sanity and help your whole family get the most out of your next art museum visit.

Girl looking at art in museum
Photo by Anna Harpe

Tips to Visit an Art Museum

child listening to headphones at museum
Photo by Anna Harpe

1. Do your research

Many art museums have kid-friendly exhibits even when the rest of the building is aimed at an adult audience.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that those exhibits can sometimes have their own unique hours of operation.  It definitely pays to do a quick bit of internet sleuthing ahead of time!

Plus, most kids love a good plan. And they love it even more when they’re involved. Whenever we prepare for a museum visit, we let our kids poke around the website, finding the maps and noting any cool exhibits they want to make sure to see. 

This way, we start to build some enthusiasm for the museum and give the kids a bit of ownership in the plan.

child outside art museum
Photo By Rachel Withers

2. Hype it up

One of my favorite ways to build excitement around a new place? A fresh stack of library books!

Here are some of our art museum favorites:

  1. Making a Great Exhibition by Doro Globus, illustrated by Rose Blake
  2. Splat! The Most Exciting Artists of All Time, by Mary Richards
  3. The Museum by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
  4. My Museum by Joanne Liu
  5. A History of Pictures for Children by David Hockney, illustrated by Martin Gayford
  6. Izzy Paints by Tim Miller

Of course, you can find lots of amazing books about specific artists, art movements, historical figures, or periods of time that might be relevant to your particular visit.  

When you take some time to dive into the art world with your kids, your upcoming trip will be more significant and your children more engaged. (Learn more about the benefits of art for kids HERE.)

child visiting art museum
Photo by Anna Harpe

3. Pack smart

Art Supplies:

Museum-friendly art supplies (like these mini colored pencils and sketch pads) are a great resource for kids. It gives them a chance to sketch their favorite pieces. 

mini art kit

Stay away from markers and pens as many museums don’t allow these in exhibit areas.

Small travel packs like these can be especially convenient to pull out of your bag in a desperate moment:

free printable art museum scavenger hunt

Scavenger Hunts:

I cannot stress enough how this one simple idea has transformed the way we approach museums as a family!

Instead of going into an exhibit with a vague notion of “appreciating art,” I arm each kid with a clipboard, a pencil, and a mission. 

A Museum Scavenger Hunt focuses kids’ attention and gives them something concrete to work on.  Plus, it keeps their hands full so they are less tempted to touch what they shouldn’t! This strategy is especially helpful with a more traditional, adult-focused location with limited hands-on exhibits. 

Of course you can personalize a scavenger hunt to your specific museum visit, but here’s our FREE Scavenger hunt that’s appropriate for a variety of locations. 


Kids seem to have an uncanny knack for finding vending machines and cafes, don’t they?  So come prepared with snacks of your own, or budget for those pricey cafe apple slices.  Whichever you choose, prepare your kids ahead of time for the food situation. 

A little pre-museum snack talk could prevent a mid-museum meltdown.

child visiting teenie harris at the carnegie museum of art
Photo by Rachel Withers

Above all, it’s important to have realistic expectations.  You may be happy to wander an art museum for three or four hours, but that’s probably a bit much to ask of a five-year-old. 

Make your visit short and sweet and leave while everyone is still in good spirits.  One successful visit (even if it’s a short one) will give you the confidence to go again!

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Photo by Anna Harpe
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