Visiting the Michener Art Museum as a family is a great way to experience the art first hand and engage in meaningful family activities. 

The Michener provides many opportunities for parents and children to work together in the galleries and the art studio.

The Michener provides many opportunities for parents and children to work together in the galleries and the art studio.

How should I prepare for my family trip to the art museum?

You can prepare your child for a visit to the Museum in a number of ways.

  • Have a conversation with your child about the Museum and about what you are going to see.  Using this website is the best first step in accomplishing this!
  • Talk about what a museum is, and what kinds of things are found in a museum.
  • Talk about what you will find at the Michener including paintings, sculpture, furniture, photography and installations.
  • Visit the museum’s exhibitions page to see what special exhibitions will be on view when you plan to visit.
  • Visit our learning resources page to download resources including the family guide , the sculpture garden guide, and an assortment of activity sheets to complement your visit.

At what age should I take my child on his/her first trip to an art museum?

Visiting an art museum is a worthwhile experience for a child of any age!  The best time to bring your child to the Michener is when you have a desire to see an exhibition or participate in a program at a museum. Your enthusiasm will be contagious, and will begin to foster your child’s lifelong appreciation for the arts.

  • Strollers and baby carriers are part of the ongoing scene at the Michener.
  • If you have a toddler, it helps to pick him or her up while looking at the art. The work is then at their eye level, and you can have an easy conversation about what you are seeing together.
  • Aim for your first visit to the museum to be 30 to 90 minutes in length. Don’t stay too long – you want to leave your child with the desire to return to the museum. Eventually your children will never want to leave.
  • Remember to take breaks, and stop in the Museum’s café for a light snack.
  • Just as the museum galleries change throughout the year, the sculpture garden also changes. Make the outdoor museum space part of every visit.
  • Check to see what classes and workshops are available for children as young as three and as old as 18.

When is the best time for my family to visit the art museum?

The best time to visit the Michener is when everyone in your family wants to go on an exciting art adventure. Choose a day when you have the time to make your visit relaxing and fun.

  • Bring your child when the Michener is hosting a special exhibition or program that is of particular interest to you.
  • Bring your child when the museum is hosting a family event, First Friday celebration, or special intergenerational workshop. During these programs, there are additional learning opportunities available for family visitors.  You can combine participation in these activities with time spent in the galleries.
  • Visit the website for an up to date schedule of special family events and programs.

What tools does the Michener Art Museum provide for families to get the most out of their experience visiting an art museum?

The Michener provides endless resources for families.

  • There are activity sheets and guides that families can use during their visit. These can be downloaded from our learning resources page, or are available at the front desk and Family Education Center.
  • The Family Education Center provides “Discovery Boxes” filled with books, games, and interactive materials related to the permanent collection and special exhibitions at the Michener.
  • The Counselor in Training Program provides teens with experience helping in the arts classes through our extensive summer camp program.
  • Don’t forget the art! It provides opportunities to explore new worlds and become re-acquainted with works of art that become old friends. Just remember, when you look at a work of art, always ask “What do you see?”

What should I bring with me to the museum?

It is always best to travel light when traveling with children. There are a few things that will help make your visit to the Michener more successful.

  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Bring a small bag with a sketchbook or drawing paper, some writing paper, pencils, colored pencils, an eraser, and even a small container-style pencil sharpener. Many children appreciate the opportunity to sit and draw in the galleries. Add a few favorite storybooks to the bag. It is also a pleasure to read a book in the museum.
  • Bring a small bag of postcards or pictures that can become an impromptu scavenger hunt in the galleries.
  • Bring a bottle of water and a light snack. Although you can’t eat in the galleries, you can take a break from the art and enjoy refreshments in the sculpture garden. There is also a small museum café if you wish to purchase something to eat.
  • Bring a camera. You can’t take flash photographs in the galleries, but there are many outdoor options at the Michener to photograph your child with works of art.

What are some tips you can provide families in looking at works of art together?

There is an endless array of things to do at the museum. It is important to feel comfortable with a few tips that will lead your family through an enjoyable museum tour.

  • Take your time. You don’t have to see everything on display at the museum in a single visit.
  • Look. Talk about what you see. Encourage your child to look more by asking open-ended questions about his or her observations.
  • In a museum, observation is the key to learning. Ask “what do you see?” followed up with, “what more can you find?” Ask your child to share with you as many details about the artwork that they can identify. Always ask your child to support his/her answers by asking, “why do you say that?” This will help you and your child develop critical thinking skills.
  • “See” your way through the museum. Object labels and text panels are helpful when you want more information, but they are not necessary parts of every museum visit. Beware of “reading” your way through the museum.
  • Good conversations can lead to lead questions including, “Why did the artist do that?”, or “How did the artist do that?”, or “What would this painting look like if it were hanging upside down?”
  • Target one gallery or a single theme on your first visit. For example, go on an animal “safari”, a shape hunt, look for people, or simply explore the Nakashima Reading Room for a while.
  • Go on a treasure hunt. Search the artworks for flowers, faces, shoes, people, windows, houses, or water. Whoever finds the most examples wins.
  • Search for formal art elements including lines, shapes, colors, patterns, texture.
  • How does the work of art make you feel? Search for moods, like happy, sad, calm, exciting, or mysterious.
  • Use what you observe to make up a story about a work of art. The drawing and writing paper helps with this activity, because you could even write the story down, and create illustrations of your own.
  • Play games with the art: Which work is your favorite? Which took the most time to make? Which would your mother like the best? Does this artwork remind me of anything in my life?
  • Imagine you are in a painting. Use your senses. What do you hear? See? Smell? Taste? Feel?
  • The front desk staff and guards at the museum are there to help you. Feel free to ask them questions about the collections, exhibitions, and museum programs.
  • Purchase a postcard as a keepsake of your museum trip. Keep the postcard in a scrapbook to record all the museum journeys you take with your child.
  • The more you come to the museum, the more familiar you become with the kinds of questions and conversations that pop up while you are there. Soon, your young children and teens will begin suggesting the activities, and you will be along for an exciting educational journey!

Does the Michener Art Museum offer kids or family tours?

Yes, the museum offers children’s tours and family tours. It is nice to combine these with private family time in the galleries.

  • Families interested in scheduling a group tour, please contact msandquist@michenerartmuseum.org or 215-340-9800 x124.
  • For more information about intergenerational classes and programs on weekdays and weekends, contact randerson@michenerartmuseum.org.
  • Encourage your child’s classroom teacher, art teacher or school administrator to take advantage of the excellent programming for school groups available at the Michener.