The 10 Best Art Museums for Kids

1. Art Institute of Chicago

  • Has a Touch Gallery -- a permanent installation of five portrait sculptures from different time periods that kids can explore with their hands; originally designed for the visually impaired, the gallery has evolved into a spot where families can learn about form, scale, and texture in ways they couldn't simply by using their sight
  • Offers "Mini Masters" classes for 3- to 5-year-olds accompanied by an adult; the hourlong program, which takes place on most Saturdays during the school year, includes reading a picture book, examining two to three works of art in one of the galleries, and doing an art project
  • Hosts themed Family Art Camps for kids and adults during one week in the summer; participants explore paintings, prints, and sculptures in the galleries, then head to the artists' studios at its adjoining school to create their own works


The Art Institute of Chicago opened its first children's gallery in 1926. Its legacy is the state-of-the-art Kraft Education Center, which puts art in context. "The education center tries to give families a connection between art and life," says Jean Sousa, director of the center's interpretive exhibitions and family programs. "You might see an African mask plus a video of that mask being worn in a performance, plus a mannequin wearing the mask, and then you can make a mask-all of which informs what you see when you look at the mask."

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