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3 tips to make museum visits with young children fun and stress free

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Recently, I went to an art museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, with my three and five-year-old sons. I love this museum and -- before my kids -- use to be a regular visitor as well as a member of their sponsorship program. But after I had my children I did not have the time or courage to dare a visit. My sisters have older children and thought a visit would be fun for them and begged me to go. So after a little research and planning I was able to have an enjoyable visit after all. If you are braving a visit to a museum, such as the Nelson-Atkins, Kemper, or World War I Museum, make sure to follow these simple tips for your peace-of-mind.

Limit your time.
Limit your time. John Parra

Limit your time.

Some museums are free, while others are not.  If you are visiting a museum that has free admission, such as Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, or Shoal Creek Living History Museum limit your time to 30 minutes to a couple of hours max since you can always come back another day.  It will make the visit more memorable and keep from exhausting yourself or your kids. 

If you will be paying for the visit, such as at the Museum at Prairiefire: American Museum of Natural History or Union Station – Science City or their exhibits -- make sure to do extensive research, confirming they have activities and children’s programs your kids will like, are age appropriate, and will keep your child’s interest for three or more hours.

Research websites for children programs and events.
Research websites for children programs and events. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Research websites for children programs and events.

Most museums have programs and events for kids.  Nelson-Atkins has a Kids+Family=Fun program that includes family guides about the artwork that focusses on the Egyptian, Chinese and African galleries.  They also have a scavenger hunt, events, studios, classes, tips and festivals.  If you are visiting a museum checkout their website and look around for any family and children programs they offer, listed are some websites for local museums for your convenience:

Expect to be monitored.
Expect to be monitored. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Expect to be monitored.

You’ll be around very expensive and priceless works of art and artifacts, therefore the volunteers and security will be monitoring you and children closer than other patrons without or with older children.  Don’t take offense to this because, after all, as parents we know that children under five are unpredictable.  Instead look at the bright side; it’s nice to know there will be another set of eyes on your adventure seekers.