When I was a kid, I remember shuffling between long lines and worrying about getting lost (or squashed), standing on my tip toes to get a peek at a confusing display, and then being repeatedly reminded by the museum guards to "not touch" anything. Needless to say, a lot has changed at the museum between my memories and those that we are making with our kids today.
In fact, there are too many reasons to list why we should go, and go often. Many museums across the nation have a designated "children's area" where learning about the world, history, science, and nature comes from educational hands-on experiences. Children are encouraged to press buttons to see demos of how the human body works, or how electricity charges our homes... garden with artificial seeds and "milk cows" with real water squirting into pails... build towers to mimic city scrapers, drive a fire engine, and even "dress-up" and play different occupations. Small critters sit behind glassed windows for us to observe (and squirm over), and there are room-sized sand pits for us to hone in on our paleontology skills while "digging" for fossils.
Children can run, splash, and "play" at every corner -- have "real world" encounters in a fun and meaningful way -- as should learning history, science and nature should be for little ones. The art museums are following suit, bringing more families with young children through their doors, every day of the week.
There are designated days for moms and tots to explore the art grounds with strollers, which takes the logistics of an art tour to a whole new level. We can walk through a Monet exhibit and then try our own hands at watercolors or talk about a Van Gogh color series and then dabble in canvas painting by ourselves. Modern art sculptures draw us in to larger than life objects, that quickly turn into play areas, and .... museum guards are no longer shushing children's vibrant curiosities and, instead, are encouraging participation in story time, live music and dance.
From art, to nature and science, museums are no longer reserved for school field trip days but monthly, if not weekly, visits letting our kids explore and learn about the world around them -- the best way they know how...with fun!