(First in a two-part series on how to accompany the children in your life on virtual visits to a variety of museums.)
Museums can introduce children to unknown worlds, spark their imagination and provide them with valuable perspective about the world in which they live.
Museum exhibits are typically so diverse that kids always can skitter around and find something that grabs their attention.
Now, more than ever, the world’s finest museums are accessible digitally. The following are among several international museums that offer free virtual exhibits, tours and dramatizations children can enjoy at home.
The Louvre, Paris: https://louvrekids.louvre.fr.
The children’s section of this website offers several videos, in English, or in French with English subtitles, of stories related to the museum exhibits, such as the theft of the Mona Lisa and a priceless diamond. The story of Little Red Riding Hood features a painting of the girl and the wolf from the museum’s collection. An actress dramatizes the story, which has a surprising ending!
Photo from the Louvre of Little Red Riding Hood, painted by Fleury Francois Richard, (1777 – 1852)
British Museum, London:
The treasures in this museum’s collection range from a clay tablet from Babylon during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar to a miniature solid gold llama figurine that was buried with a king. The free learning resources online range from how Egyptian mummies were made to what Romans ate and drank in ancient times.
You can visit the British Museum’s blog for more information:
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam: https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en
Children will become acquainted with Vincent van Gogh through kid-friendly videos. For six to nine-year-olds, a video introduces the artist as an unassuming young man who loved to paint, shows what he painted, how he did it and where he did it. For nine to fourteen-year-olds, videos tell of a misunderstood, determined man who wouldn’t give up. It’s a story about needing to do what you’re good at. For youngsters who want to immerse themselves in the artist, there are drawings to print and color, crafts, games and books. It’s all in English so it’s easily accessible.
Books about the works of art, ancient animals, and fossils can compliment the virtual museum tours. Among the options:
13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel.
This picture book, suitable for children from eight to 12 years old, features works by some of the world’s greatest painters, including Leonardo de Vinci, Vermeer and Matisse.
Fossils for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Dinosaur Bones, Ancient Animals and Prehistoric Life on Earth, by Ashley Hall. From interesting facts about such prehistoric dinosaurs as Velociraptor to Tyrannosaurus rex, the book explains how fossils form, where they are found and how to identify them. Reading age: 6 to 8 years.
Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who seeks out family-friendly activities.