During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., I witnessed a “behavioral museum meltdown” at the National Mall. In response to his parents, a child was screaming, “I don’t care what we do, as long as we don’t visit another museum!” Perhaps his museum fatigue (and outburst) could have been prevented had his parents followed the four “B's” of family
museum-going as detailed in the classic, Where’s the Me in Museum: Going to Museums with Children.
They are paraphrased below:
Before the visit, review how visitors should behave at a museum. Children often do not understand the difference between public and private behavior. For example, in an art museum, “no-touch” is an important rule. Parents should explain how important the art is, and point out all the guards protecting it.
2. The Building
Children react to their surroundings – especially large open-spaced areas. Before entering an exhibit, take time to point out features and note how the building differs from home. For example, ask a young child to name five ways in which the museum differs from his home.
3. The Break
Every visitor needs one. Consider bringing snacks or even a bag lunch to prevent energy drain. With a bag lunch, everyone knows they have what they need and how long it will take.
Needless to say, this should always be the first stop before beginning any adventure with children.