Expert Articles

Can Infants and Toddlers Visit Museums? 

Author: Ms Ruoyu Wen,
Lecturer at Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education

We have always believed that museums are built for adults, and some articles even express the view that “infants and toddlers should not come to museums.” It seems difficult for us to connect the need for silence in museums with the uncontrollable crying of infants and toddlers, and the exhibits behind glass cases in museums are far from the interests of infants and toddlers. So, should parents bring infants and toddlers aged 0–3 to museums? And what can they do when visiting museums with infants and toddlers?

Why should you bring infants and toddlers to museums?

As places for informal learning, museums can utilize their unique and extensive collections to provide opportunities for infants and toddlers to explore topics that interest them. For example, if an infant or toddler is interested in dinosaurs, at home they can only see pictures or animations of dinosaurs, but in a museum, they have the chance to see 3D replicas of dinosaurs and experience different sensory stimuli. Infants and toddlers can also observe items and phenomena that are not commonly seen in daily life, satisfying their need for thinking, exploration, and language development. Additionally, visiting museums is an opportunity for infants and toddlers to develop attachment relationships within their families and social networks.

How do I visit museums with infants and toddlers?
  1. When bringing infants (0–1 year old) to museums, pay attention to moments when they make sounds, move their hands and feet, and point with their fingers, as these behaviours indicate their interest in the current exhibits. If the infant is awake, a front-facing baby carrier is an excellent choice for visiting museums.
  2. If you are bringing a toddler (1-3 years old, capable of independent walking) to a museum, you can prepare some sensory toys for them to hold and soothe their emotions. Guide them to look for animals, vehicles, the sun, the moon, or other themes that interest them and are related to their daily lives among the exhibits. You can also discuss their feelings when seeing exaggerated or visually stimulating artworks.
  3. When describing exhibits to infants and toddlers, there is no need to delve into the history and abstract concepts behind them. Instead, describe or discuss the most apparent aspect:
    • What colours do you see? How do these colours make us feel?
    • What does this exhibit remind you of?
    • What do you think this exhibit is used for?
  4. When bringing infants and toddlers to museums, it’s important to manage the time, starting with shorter visits of 45–60 minutes and gradually extending the duration. When infants and toddlers start becoming fussy in the museum due to physiological needs (such as hunger, thirst, or discomfort from crowded spaces), parents can take them to a rest area or leave the museum. Ensuring that infants and toddlers have a pleasant experience is the premise of visiting museums.
  5. In addition to regular museum visits, parents can also look for special activities prepared for infants and toddlers by major museums, such as playgroups. These activities allow for more interaction and communication with other families while visiting the museum, helping infants and toddlers develop social skills.

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Can Infants and Toddlers Visit Museums?