Growing up, and probably even throughout my 20’s, museums felt like something I was “supposed” to like and I was embarrassed to admit that they were in fact horribly boring for me. As an engineer with an analytical mind, I was always trying to analyze and understand what I was seeing. But in the last few years, my perspective has changed. I now see museums as a time to turn my thinking brain off, to relax and become curious about what art can make me feel. Sometimes a piece can surprise me because I notice it causes a strong emotional reaction in me, one that I can’t explain and only recently, the feeling of not being able to explain it is something I can leave alone.
And now I’m living in a city where you can’t throw a stone without striking a museum. Where beautiful things without explanation are everywhere. But how does one take advantage of that with a 2 year old and 4 year old in tow? A 2 and a 4 year old that are loud, lack patience and are generally more interested in climbing sculptures than looking at them?
It seems like Paris has thought of us. Below are three museums that my husband and I have been able to genuinely enjoy with our kids thanks to well-designed, kid-focused spaces.
First Musee Rodin. There is a great children's workshop. We’ve taken our kids there to get their energy out and let them indulge in touching EVERYTHING. That bought us enough patience for the indoor museum part. Then we brought them to the gardens and had some (rather expensive) ice cream before exploring the gardens, full of sculptures and benches for one parent to sit and relax while the other runs frantically after the kids.
Next Center Pompidou. We have an annual pass for this one and they have a lot for kids (You can check out an Overview of what’s on right now). My older son loves elevators, so even before seeing a single piece of art, this museum is his favorite! Take the elevators or escalators to the top floor for an amazing view of Paris. Mostly what we do is visit the children’s play area, which changes themes periodically. Check the website here to make sure it isn’t closed to set up for the next theme. Sometimes we split up and one parent stays with the kids while the other goes solo though the museum. The kids can stay for quite a while in the play area or the terraces are also open to hang out and relax with a snack while one parent explores.
Finally, the Louvre. They have a studio in the basement. I find it’s not well labeled or advertised, but the info booth will direct you, or check out this link where the following note is provided for the studio: Located on the ground level of the Richelieu wing, the Studio is a space for discovery and creation at the heart of the Louvre. Come enjoy freely accessible activities open to all holders of a museum admission ticket. Please note that these activities are available in French only.
Do you have a recommendation for a kid-friendly art-focused afternoon? Share in the comments!
About the Author:
Michelle is an American mom of 2 little people, trying to balance work, family and her curiosities. Her family is in Paris for a few years for her job and she’s almost continuously background-planning excursions small and large in an effort to make the most of her family's time abroad. “Parents have needs too” chronicles her quest for the coveted parenting win-win: family time that’s captivating for kids and adults in (somewhat) equal measure.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Message.