Going to the museum with children: is it reasonable?

Yes, because for my part, I sometimes think that I must have missed something. I constantly see friends posting photos on Instagram of their little one meditating at the Picasso museum, or posing like a statue of David, #cultureenfamille. And there I tell myself that either their children are already very refined aesthetes, or they have hidden the grimaces of the porcelain room pretty well. Because for me, going to the museum is a different kind of lemonade.

First there is the tail

No way to go see an exhibition on the weekend without stuffing yourself with a good half-hour wait. So patience, calm and stillness, you know, the holy trinity of calamities for a normally constituted kid. And when, at the end of the ritual half-hour of stamping, you enter the first room, it is you who find yourself saying to your child who is pulling you by the hand: “Wait, we have to read the presentation if you want to understand the age-old art of Japanese prints”.

At this time, it is likely that the kid has a furious desire to go for a walk, and that you are wondering how to hold him back. And it is on this occasion that I want to salute the regulations of these museums, which prohibit you from carrying your children on your shoulders during the visit – no doubt for fear that he will hit his skull on a Calder mobile .

Yes, because we know it, nothing better for a toddler than to appreciate the art behind a forest of adult legs, or the head turned so upwards that it looks like a yoga posture! It would still be a shame if he could enjoy what we show him! And that’s how this same toddler ended up killing himself in silence, while you were leaning over the explanatory note of a very, very contemporary installation… The most likely is that you’ll end up finding him with his nose screwed in a screen, since there are now some in all museums. At best, it’s an interview with a Brazilian artist with English subtitles. And in the worst, a visual creation with 3D glasses around the aesthetics of the Third Reich.

A real ordeal to go to the museum with your children?

I did not say that. Already because a stroller can serve as an appreciable skip-the-line in certain museums. And because after all, it’s not entirely impossible for your darling to understand the existential symbolism of Annette Messager’s pierced comforters… And then, there’s worse than going to the museum with your children, you know well. There is going to the museum with other people’s children.

Please note: I’m not talking about the little nephew who likes to take a nap stretched out on the benches, or Lola’s daughter after whom you ran through the Louvre because she wanted to see if the floors were slippery! We all know that children are like lumps in pancake batter, as long as there are one or two, we can still get by.

No, my obsession is when I see, no rather when I hear a class of children arriving – yes because classes of children are like Italian tourists, you always hear them before you see them – , so when I hear a class of excited, screaming children arriving even as I try to fathom the overt melancholy of a Van Eyck altarpiece. And there, in the face of so much sacrificed beauty, I happen to think that nothing has really changed since Goscinny who imagined the class of Little Nicolas on a spree at the museum, with Alceste running his fat finger over the paintings to see if the paint is still wet…

A little personal advice anyway to take advantage of the outing to the museum?

First, do not always go there with the family. You’re not taking your child to see the latest film by the Dardenne brothers, so don’t feel you have to drag them to the Munch exhibition which has just opened in Orsay. Instead, go and explore the child-friendly museums that are scattered all over France, the House of Magic in Blois, the Miniature Museum and Cinema in Lyon, the Musée en herbe in Paris, or the Cité des enfants which celebrates its 30th anniversary at the Cité des sciences de la Villette.

And then, you will lose nothing by adopting the most playful approach possible during the visit. With my son, for example, we like to play “which one is the ugliest?” – which can be a canvas, a statue, a photo, whatever. So I know, it might sound a bit childish said like that. But after two or three laughs that do no harm on the oddity of this or that creation, everyone comes to defend their gaze and, by contrast, affirm their conception of beauty. And I think maybe that’s what children’s museums are for. They have plenty of time to learn art history. But it’s never too late to cultivate their taste and uniqueness.

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Going to the museum with children: is it reasonable?

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