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Exploring museums with your kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

New cultural explorations

It's easy as a parent to get attached to certain places and activities with our kids. The local children's museum is a great place! Or the natural history museum, or the science museum, or any museum. But a block of time out of the ordinary -- like a break from school -- is a great time to explore someplace new. You may even find a new favorite place!

Dinosaur museum exhibit

The cultural resources within a community vary, of course, but I bet there's a resource in your area that you haven't used much. Maybe you thought your child was too young for a certain museum, or the museum wouldn't be welcoming to you and your kids. But that's probably not the case -- cultural institutions generally want to reach out to all ages and community segments. So if you haven't been to the big art museum recently, now would be a great time to try again, and with your kids.

Keep visits focused -- and not too long

Big institutions can seem overwhelming. They often are physically large, with lots of wings and options, and you may not know where to start. With some online research, you can identify specific exhibits or areas of a museum or cultural institution for which to focus your first visit. Some art genres are more accessible to younger viewers, and some hands-on exhibits are specially geared towards families.

And if a museum or museum complex is large, you don't have to see it all in one day! It's overwhelming for adults to do that -- so just imagine the overstimulation for kids. If you limit your focus and your time, you're more likely to get more out of what you do see.

Take advantage of special programs

Many institutions offer special programs during school vacation weeks. There may be kid-focused talks on how thunderstorms work, or the opportunity to work with clay with the curator of ancient Egyptian art. Definitely take advantage of these programs -- sign up early if you have to!

Because museums are often popular during school vacation weeks, these special programs can also get out of busier areas -- and maybe even see part of a museum most people don't see.

Become a member

If you enjoy your visit to a new museum or other cultural institution, join up. Becoming a member may encourage you to come back sooner, for even more exploring and enjoyment. You may even find a new favorite activity to do with the kids -- and new knowledge and regional and cultural enjoyment for all of you.

family museums to check out

Family-friendly museums @ GeoParent.com

Best US museums for families

Best children's museums in the US

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