It is easy to pigeonhole “how” you are “supposed” to use a museum. After all, a lot of care and thought goes into most exhibits and it seems right that you are supposed to take the entire museum, work your way through the individual exhibits and come out with the story.
I would like to challenge that.
Yes, it is a very valid and great way to use a museum and every exhibit designer I know puts a lot of time and attention into everything from the color of the walls to the particular object on display. However, that is not the ONLY way to view a museum and sometimes, especially with young children, another way may work better.
Speaking very broadly, there are at least three ways you can do the museum YOUR way
Building: Museum buildings are often amazing, interesting or unique spaces. Look at the architecture, explore the patterns and colors, imagine what it was used for before it was a museum. I’m not saying ignore everything that is inside it, but you can make the main focus be the physical space itself.
Exhibits: As I mentioned, the exhibits are carefully crafted to help you understand a story. There is great value in taking the exhibit as a whole and working your way through it. That being said, don’t feel you have to do EVERY exhibit in its entirety. That would be exhausting and overwhelming for almost anyone. You’d much rather see one and really enjoy it then have your only memory of the day be cranky and over whelmed kids…right?
Objects: It is totally and completely ok to go to a museum to see one object. No, I don’t mean one exhibit, I really mean one object. Enjoy it, explore it, learn about it. Or maybe you skip following the exhibit narrative and move from object to object that captures your attention. The objects are a main purpose behind museums right? So, why not enjoy them?
No matter what your style of visiting is, it is the right way to see a museum….I promise