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How to avoid the “Museum eye-roll”…
My kids are frequent museum visitors, but I have to admit that there is some eye rolling that always comes with it. Here are some pointers to help you decide how much to do with your family.
First, how long will you be in the city?
If we are in a city for only two days we usually skip the museums. Instead, we do a bit of homework ahead of our trip. Before going to Paris for the first time we visited a local impressionism exhibit. Once in Paris we took the kids to the places where the artists lived, and the cafes where they got together. We wanted them to see and feel what inspired their art and therefore appreciate the city in a different way. They got more out of that than if we had spent an entire day at the Louvre!
Is there something specific you want to see?
During the same trip we spent a week in London so we decided to visit the British Museum. It is such a big museum that planning ahead was key! We went online and each child picked a of couple things they wanted to see. We showed up at the museum with our list and it turned into a scavenger hunt of sorts. We had a wonderful afternoon!
Remember too that there are many different kinds of museums. From art to science to palaces, gardens and anything in between. Sometimes smaller, one theme museums are better for the kids.
What about the must see museum?
We spent five days in Florence so the Uffizi was a must. I have one art lover and two not so much, however they all love history. We decided to focus on the Renaissance and picked Rick Steves Uffizi audio guide. It was wonderful. It took us about 3 hours and we came out with a very good idea of the progression of art during that time period.
How long is too long?
I think 3 hrs is about the limit for a good museum visit. There is just so much they can absorb and retain, especially when the visit is part of a major trip to begin with.
Case in point: We visited the Vatican museums in Rome. This is my idea of heaven and I really wanted to get this message across. As you know the Vatican is really a group of 6 museums… We hit a little of everything… It is now known at our house as “The Museum that NEVER ENDS”!- And believe me when I tell you that this is not a good thing!
Finally, do you really need to go to a museum?
Museums are not for everybody. One of the reasons people give me for not traveling to Europe is that their kids don't like museums and they don't want to drag their kids around because it is not fun for anyone…
I totally get that most kids roll their eyes at the mention of a museum (as I said, mine do too…), but here is a way around that: Think of cities as big living, breathing museums!! Point out architectural styles as you walk down the street. Have dinner at a historical restaurant, shop for groceries at a medieval market or attend services at a landmark church. There are so many options that now you have no excuse, so go pack your bags!!
Walking around Montmartre, Paris
Mozart's birthhouse in Salzburg, Germany. Nice museum, about a one hour visit.
Having icecream at Cafe Florian in Venice, Italy- former "hunting ground" of Casanova.