The 10 Best Art Museums for Kids

3. Dayton Art Institute

  • Offers three thematic, self-guided gallery hunts with packets of hip, colorful clue cards that send kids to five works of art per hunt and ask them questions about what they see
  • Hosts tours for preschoolers such as "Looking for Goldilocks" (kids find objects in the museum's collection-three chairs, three bowls-that fit the story, then decorate their own porridge bowl)
  • Allows families to borrow Gallery Bags filled with items children can use while they're in the museum, such as a museum-designed ABC book and a magnetic board on which they can make their own Mondrians

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The Dayton Art Institute is known to locals as "Dayton's living room," a reference to the fact that nearly all of Dayton comes together there. If the DAI is a living room, the museum's Experiencenter, an interactive family gallery, is a rumpus room -- a place where kids can do as much as they view.

"We add activities that will help children understand the art, the form and the function of it, even as they have fun," says Susan Anable, director of education. Case in point: For "Dutch Treat: Rembrandt and Friends," a kids' exhibition opening in June to support DAI's special installation "Rembrandt and the Golden Age," the Experiencenter will have a dress-up area. "Since Rembrandt's subjects are usually formally dressed, we'll encourage kids to dress up and stand behind a picture frame," says Anable. "We'll take Polaroids-modern-day portraits-of them, helping to make the connection between their own portrait and those by Rembrandt they can see in the galleries."

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