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Kids: Don't Leave Home Without Them

Art Appreciation

Despite the hush-hush atmosphere, museums welcome children - many offer brochures highlighting kid-friendly works. And as your child looks at different works he likes, he'll build visual and verbal skills when he tries to interpret them. Serena Makofsky, 39, loves taking her 5-year-old, Max, to look at art. "Before we go in, we always practice how to look at art without loving it too much - the hands-behind- the-back stance," says the Portland, OR, mom.
■ How to pull it off: Prior to the visit, look on the museum's Website to pick pieces to see. The younger the child, the more he'll prefer three-dimensional art, like sculptures and objects, says Mike Norris, an educator at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Families also enjoy our modern art galleries," he adds, "because kids are encountering some of the same questions in their own art" - like what happens when you make trees purple? Kids love tactile experiences, but they can't touch art. So Natasha Schlesinger, a mother of three and owner of ArtMuse, which offers children's tours of museums in New York City, brings objects for the kids - a palette and brush or a sketch pad, even a piece of metal to hold when viewing steel sculptures. And because kids love looking at brushstrokes up close, a magnifying glass.
■ Biggest saboteurs: Watch out for fatigue, cautions Norris, which can be easy to miss since you may not notice how much distance you're covering. Depending on your child's age, plan to leave after 30 minutes to an hour.

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