Family Fun for June: Museums!

dinomuseumI love museums. I stand in awe of human creativity at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and of the innovations at the Henry Ford Museum. I delight in watching children’s explorations at our local Hands On Museum. And, of course, when I have the chance to travel, I find more museums to love—whether my traveling is through space or the virtual world.

And so, this month’s first Family Fun post is all about creative fun with museums—visiting them, exploring them, and even creating them. Later in June I’ll switch to my summer more-family-centered schedule, but more about that later. Today, museums!

  • Of course, my number one recommendation for family fun in museums is to visit one. It doesn’t have to be a huge museum or an all-day excursion. Pick a local history site or visit just one exhibit of a larger museum. It’s much more fun happily enjoy one thing and leave, rather than dragging an exhausted group of young people from one thing to the next (not that I’ve ever done that!) But if you can’t manage the trip—or after you’ve come home—try some of these ways to have museum fun.
  • NGAkidsNational Gallery of Art Kids Art Zone includes a fascinating collection of online or downloadable activities. They are fun in themselves, but can also spur creative activities off line. Once you’ve created a collage, still life or swatchbox online, try making one at home.
  • One of my favorite online museums is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I’ve never been there in person, but I’ve still had a grand time. Explore the many tools for learning, and then head over to the “Snacks” section to learn how to make miniature versions of many museum exhibits at home. How about a marshmallow puff tube? Or a cloud in a bottle? What fun!
  • Perhaps you’ll want to create your own museum. This could be anything from a simple diorama or museum of stuffed animals, to a serious exploration of local history that you open to family and friends. The Smithsonian offers a guide to creating your own history museum that could be a great summer or home school project.
  • Or you might want to create a virtual museum using PowerPoint. Blogger Dr. Christy Keeler gives lots of hints for creating virtual museums using PowerPoint, but best of all, provides handy templates ready to upload your exhibits. Virtual museums have the added benefit of not requiring that you have the exhibits ready at hand. Young people could upload photos of a shell or action figure collection, or almost as easily, create a gallery of favorite paintings, Wonders of the World, or anything else that captures their imagination.
  • There are an amazing number of food museums. Who knew there were museums devoted to Idaho potatoes, mustard, or jello? There might be a food museum near you. Here’s a directory that might help you locate one. But for even more creative fun, why not start one—at least for the week? Pick a favorite food, or a local food deserving of more recognition. Take a trip to the store (and maybe a gourmet shop or two) to find examples of the food in as many forms as possible. Buy a few and photograph the rest. Are there images associated with your food online? Perhaps a stuffed toy or a refrigerator magnet? Add it to your virtual collection. And of course you’ll need recipes—and food to sample. Open your museum to family and friends. Perhaps you’ll cultivate a new food favorite!

Museums in all their forms make great summer projects. If you create one, I’d love to post your photos!

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