Museum activities: why they’re good for children
A trip to a museum can be fun for you and your child.
Many museums have child-friendly exhibits, where ideas and information are presented in an interactive and engaging way. Some museums also have spaces designed for children, with play areas and simple activities.
By wandering around a museum with you, your child can learn a lot about science, art, history or culture – without even trying.
What you need for museum activities with children
You need a museum to visit!
You can go online to find museums in your area. See which ones are child friendly or have exhibits that might suit your child’s interests. You can also look for specialty museums – for example, museums dedicated to science or the air force.
Also, many museums have virtual tours. You can explore museums and exhibits that interest your child anywhere in the world – all from your own home.
The important thing is that you and your child have fun.
A trip to the museum can mean a long day for a child, and on-site cafes can be expensive and crowded. You could bring your own healthy snacks and water. Just check with staff or look at the museum map to find out which museum areas permit eating and drinking.
How to enjoy museum activities with children
Here are suggestions to help you and your child get the most out of visiting the museum:
- Tell your child a bit about the museum before you go. Explain what your child is likely to see, as well as any rules – for example, ‘Some of the paintings we’re going to see are very precious, so we can’t touch them’.
- Ask for a map and show it to your child. Follow your child’s lead. For example, ask where your child wants to go first.
- If your child is interested in an exhibit, build on this interest by asking questions – for example, ‘Why do you think it had such big teeth?’
- Be flexible. Museums can be very stimulating for children. If it looks like your child is getting tired, take a break or go home early. You can always visit the museum again another day.
Museums often provide a lot of information on their exhibits. You can use this information to explain things to your child and help them understand what they’re seeing. But it’s also OK to let your child lead the way. When your child follows their own interests, they’re most likely to learn and enjoy the experience.
Adapting museum activities for children of different ages or children with diverse abilities
Your younger child might rush past exhibits without seeming to notice them. Your child might also use something the ‘wrong’ way – for example, repeatedly pushing a button in an interactive display just to see the lights. Be patient, and try to see the museum from your child’s point of view.
Museums are a good way to let your older child learn more about something that interests them, like trains or dinosaurs.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.
Here’s a selection of Australian museums. You can find many smaller and regional museums by searching online.
Australia Capital Territory
- Australian War Memorial
- National Museum of Australia
- Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre
New South Wales
- Art Gallery of New South Wales
- Australian Museum
- Australian National Maritime Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
- Powerhouse Museum
- Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame
- Museum of Brisbane
- Museum of Tropical Queensland
- Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art
- Queensland Museum
- Art Gallery of South Australia
- Migration Museum
- South Australian Maritime Museum
- South Australian Museum
- Wadlata Outback Centre
- Mona – Museum of Old and New Art
- Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
- Australian Sports Museum
- Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre
- Immigration Museum
- Melbourne Museum
- National Gallery of Victoria