Museums are great spaces for learning and getting inspiration. Children who visit museums with their parents are more likely to visit museums in adulthood.
To visit a museum in the weekend or on holiday might not be the first option parents choose for their children, especially in the United Arab Emirates. Parents would consider places that include entertainment programmes, and spaces for kids and young people. They also want a “diversity” of restaurants, shops, and cinemas. But this is why some museums do consider all of the above to attract families to museums. So parents need to do a little bit of research and find out what museums are offering.
People visit museums to meet all kinds of needs. Some are straightforward, such as getting information, meeting friends, or taking their children on holiday. Other reasons are more complex, like discovering the history or heritage of a place, or finding a sense of personal identity and exploring the museum collection. Visitors might want to seek social and recreational experiences from their visit, mostly to satisfy their general interest and curiosity and for social interaction. So why would you want to take your child to a museum?
A visit to a museum would provide a memorable experience through interactive exhibitions and hands-on activities. Moreover, these visits help with critical thinking, creativity and provoke the imagination. Reading labels, looking or touching the object (if allowed), and asking questions helps to develop these cognitive skills. However, it can be challenging as most children have short attention spans and no prior knowledge of the subject. Therefore, parents and guardians should put in some extra effort to explain to their children about the museum and its exhibitions or collection. Parents and children are encouraged to learn and explore together. They can discuss an art object or a painting, which creates valuable learning experiences for them as a family.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your trip to the museum with your children goes smoothly:
- Visit the museum website and check their opening hours, cafes, parking, entry fees, museum location and what is the best time to go to avoid rush hours.
- Check museum rules and regulations.
- Know what type of museum you are visiting to be able to explain to your child.
- Ask the reception if there are any family activities they provide.
- Take advantage of the educational programmes, as many museums provide family-friendly tours and workshops.
- Create a vocabulary list for kids, so that they can learn new words like “relics” or “artifacts”.
- Create your own art session for the child. For example, they could draw shapes or letters or find similarities and differences between paintings.
There are a wide variety of museums to visit in the UAE. Many of the historic houses, dhows, forts, schools, and airports were transformed into museums and opened to the public. In Sharjah alone, there are around 20 museums that cover different topics and interests. From art museums, to heritage museums, archaeology, Islamic civilizations and more. Moreover, Louvre Abu Dhabi is expected to open in November, and other museums will follow such as Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Think about your child’s interests and take him/her to the museum of that subject. That would make a great starting point to inspire other museum visits in the future.
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