Families are among the general public visiting the museums. Most of the time, family visits take place at the weekend. Museums suggest family visits as a day trip to a place that offers knowledge, entertainment, relaxation and the opportunity for parents or escorts to come closer to children. Storytelling, treasure hunting, guided tours, craft lessons and field research are just some of the programs applied to museums to attract families at the weekend. An excursion to a museum is an ideal way for family "learning" outside home and has proven to be particularly entertaining to families who have experienced it. A family visit to a museum can trigger meaningful conversations between family members not only during their visit but also after returning home.
The benefits of family visiting museums, among others are that:
- Families build connections
- Families create unforgettable memories
- Museums support life-long learning for all family members
- Parents’ self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing is developed in a way that motivates them to continue learning for themselves as well and inspires them to return to the museum with their kids.
Under this concept planning a family visit to a museum is a unique opportunity for quality family time and requires a number of steps that will take off museum experience. Knowing how to structure a visit is a key point to success.
Before Visiting the Museum, parents should involve children in planning the visit. This will help children to get excited about the visit and to be better engaged. Parents should talk about what they expect to see at the museum.
Pictures and brochures could be shown so as the family to discuss what intrigues every member. An easy game that involves exhibit search can be created. Family can discuss why people collect objects and how these objects get inside the museum.
The museum website should be checked for admission fees, hours, and travel directions. It would be very enlightening to find out if the museum has any special exhibits for children and families. This could be very helpful for parents to relate what their children are learning in school to what they will see during their museum visit.
Museum rules should be formed along with children. That is important because most of the art and history museums will not allow people to touch the objects because they are one of a kind. A personal safety rule and a plan in case family is separated should be planned.
During the visit at the museum family should find information about the location of exhibitions, bathrooms, exits, elevators, restaurants and places to rest. The information desk will provide these information through the map of the museum. Exploring the map could be fun to. Self-guided tours and museum activities for children could be available in different languages as well. A stop at the gift shop is a way to get children excited about what there is inside the museum, as a postcard or a picture could be a start of an exhibit research play inside the museum.
Parents should be flexible as they must follow children’s pace. They also have to be ready to stop and discuss any questions children may have. Even if they don’t have the answers they have the opportunity for further research inside the museum and gaming at home.
Children under 6 years old usually learn better in a short period of time (10-15 minutes) and can get tired if they see too many things at once. In that case family visit may only last 30-60 minutes. In case children start to complain about tiredness or boredom, it is important to take a break or leave the museum. Another visit in a future time can be planned.
After visiting the museum it could be a great idea to create a story about the exhibits that attract the interest of each family member best and try to illustrate it. Make crafts that are related to museum exhibits. In case museum visit turns to be a successful experience consider buying an annual pass. This helps create a museum routine.
Family learning in the museum is a complex and important process where adults and children learn and have fun together. Families in museums can create the appropriate conditions for strengthening the family ties and promoting the communication between its members. Planning a museum visit is a beneficial activity that every family should experience.