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Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Kids to the Museum

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Okay, I need to get this off my chest. I’m not a mother. Whew! In fact, I don’t even have a child. In fact, I’m not even a woman. I’m a displaced Detroiter now living in NYC. Why am I writing this? Because I secretly want to be a mother? At 22, not quite. Two weeks ago, my aunt, uncle and little cousins visited me—a wonderful bill of a three-year-old, six and seven-year-olds, aunt, and uncle. An adventure was in store.

As resident New Yorker in my family, they, of course, wanted me to entertain them for an afternoon. We could walk through Central Park, maybe visit an art museum, and hit Little Italy for dinner. Ambitious plans, but it could be fun, right?

Reality set in. When has a museum ever been enjoyable to children? I vividly recalled when I had visited the Sistine Chapel at twelve. My only thoughts were, Is this almost over? Are we almost done? Really, ARE WE LEAVING SOON?! I had hated it, and this was at twelve. Imagine to ADHD six and seven-year-olds trying to grab a Van Gogh. Imagine a three-year-old girl walking for longer than half-an-hour. Imagine settling down a group of feisty, hungry, and tired children, convincing them of art’s importance—this isn’t homemade finger-painting.

Since I know virtually nothing about child-friendly activities in the city (I can’t take them to a karaoke bar, can I?), I researched an alternate route. Instead of playing in a cold, partially snow-laden Central Park, or meandering around MOMA for a few hours, we were going to do something active. The kids needed an activity—anything. The adults needed to not worry about their children getting railed by a car…or bicyclist…or walker. It may not be a stereotypical New York experience, but it’d be something the kids, and even adults, could enjoy.

After extensive googling, I stumbled upon an NYC booking platform, Vimbly, and reserved seats for a glassblowing workshop. I’m kidding. It was a beginner’s painting course.

Here, the kids could occupy their creative juices for a few hours, and the adults could release some inner-tension through Pollack-like brush strokes—and a glass of wine.

The idea proved to be successful. Joey and Anthony (six and seven-years-old, respectively) each painted themselves, which eerily resembled “The Scream”—I guess they subconsciously visited MOMA.

Although the kids missed a few “traditional” NYC sights (not that they’d remember, anyways), they had fun. Isn’t that what vacations should be?

18 Comments

  • Binky says:

    Whatever!

  • nite.crone says:

    When my kids were little, they loved going to the art museum. The problem was, they would get so excited about seeing things, that they set off silent alarms, because they pointed too closely at things. The problem came, when my 3yo got so excited about the Picasso, that she stepped on the platform 6ft in front of it, and set off a blaring alarm that scared the heck out of her, and everyone near-by. She was so terrified, that she wouldn’t stop crying, so we left.

  • Allie says:

    all about culture in education. bring your child when they learn the word quiet and don’t touch.

  • aerialla says:

    From the age they turned 4, my daughters 11 and 14 have been to and symphonies, but art museums, theater productions and galleries and never once have I had an issue. It has helped land them into an arts magnet school where they thrive. The best advice is to of course take your children to these events, but do your research before, The symphony we saw was a tribute to composer John Williams, and theater shows are whenever the show is child appropriate. These events are great times to talk and get to know your children. Art museums are a great way to get inside a child’s mind by having them explain to you what they see.

  • Susan M says:

    Really ?? I adored museums from a very early age as did my two children … as do my two grandchildren now aged 4 and 7 ! You can use a buggy you know if your 3 yr old is tired !

    I think you should take children to museums, art galleries etc as early as possible!

  • shocked says:

    what a horrible ignorant article ..
    i grew up across the street from a major museum & it was my playground all thru childhood ..
    i am now an anthropologist & artist …
    boring INDEED !
    you are a lazy selfish mother looking for excuses not to educate your children …
    you should be ashamed of such willful ignorance ..
    bored by the sistine at 12 years old ? you are an idiot ..
    poor kid …

    • Serena says:

      Seeing as you call the writer a lazy mother, it’s clear you haven’t read the article. It’s also clear you are not an educated so it’s doubtful you’re an anthropologist or even artist.
      The author was appropriate with activities for the children. No one needs to stare at others art to educate themselves. The children were able to paint for themselves.
      And the author is not an idiot. The Sistine Chapel is boring.

      • Dawn says:

        “No one needs to stare at others art to educate themselves.” Based on your atrocious spelling and grammar, I think it’s safe to say that you could have used some quality museum time.

        “The Sistine Chapel is boring.” – *sigh* Would you like the Sistene Chapel better if it had a laser light show to entertain you? The “dumbing down” of America continues…

  • Jenna says:

    Usually not a problem w the activity BUT with the time limit. Just because you go to a museum, you don’t have to STAY there for 4 hours! Young children have short attention spans. Go for 30 minutes and leave them with the awareness that there was lots more to see! :-)

  • Ali says:

    The writer does have a point about taking little ones to more grown up activities. Especially if the grown ups wants to stay for a long period of time to enjoy it.

  • Dawn says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the future of America. Yes, we are screwed.

    Dear Author, you need to do a bit of reading about your new home, because you obviously have no idea what the city has to offer. Let me educate you, since you were obviously too lazy to find this information yourself:

    1) “When has a museum ever been enjoyable to children?”
    What is it with this generation?? Too hyped up on sugar and video games to sit still and unable to use your little brains because everything has been spoon fed to you. Honestly, you use the Sistene Chapel as representative of all museums? You must have had a sucky childhood, because I grew up going to AMAZING museums like the Boston Museum of Science (www.mos.org) and The Boston Children’s Museum (http://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/).

    Yes, in the past art museums had a well deserved reputation for being boring. That has changed within the past decade.
    Many art museums now have children/family programs that offer fun, AGE APPROPRIATE, hands on activities to introduce children of all ages to art. For example: http://www.metmuseum.org/learn/for-kids

    If you took the time to type a few simple words into Google, you would have come up with this nice list of kid-friendly museums in New York: http://www.ny.com/kids/museums.html

    2) “Imagine settling down a group of feisty, hungry, and tired children, convincing them of art’s importance” – seriously?? You have no idea about kids, do you? Only a complete moron would drag a 6&7 year old through a museum and lecture them about art. Furthermore, why are these kids hungry? Most museums have cafes/restaurants. If you’d rather go someplace cheaper, most museums have a same-day re-entry policy (they usually stamp your hand to show you’ve paid) so you can easily go out for lunch and come back.

    3) ADHD is not an excuse to be an undisciplined brat. Parents need to teach their kids how to behave in public. Children can have fun in a museum without acting like feral animals. Yes – children can laugh, play, sing, create and discover. A great museum will encourage that! However, children can be taught to respect their surroundings and their fellow museum goers with a few simple and reasonable rules.

    As a museum educator I work with elementary school children – children as young as Kindergarten can grasp the concept of not running, using an inside voice and no touching certain things. They understand that if they run, they could hurt themselves or someone else. They understand that by using an inside voice, other people can enjoy their time at the museum as well (not to mention they know they wouldn’t enjoy someone screaming nearby while they’re trying to watch or play with something). They understand that if they touch something old and fragile, it could possibly break.

    So if your cousins can’t walk into a public building without frothing at the mouth and swinging from banisters, then the problem lies not with the museum, but with their lack of parental guidance.

  • Steven says:

    How is playing in Central Park not active?

  • DD says:

    My kids would trash the place.

  • Jocelyn says:

    I have one reason: Because I wouldn’t enjoy it.

  • BusyBee says:

    I think it would be great to take kids for short periods of time. They need to learn that not everywhere is a playground.

  • Jocelyn says:

    I think if you could take hem for a bit that would be best

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