6. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Provides family tours in English and Spanish as part of its "Family Days" program, which includes hands-on art-making and live theatrical, musical, or dance performances every Sunday of the year
- Offers family gallery guides with inventive approaches; one, called Oddball Art, sends families to three modern works with questions to ask at every stop
- Hosts special "School's Out, We're In" programs for school holidays, when families can take a special tour of the permanent collection featuring historical heroes in art
Started in 1997 as an experimental space to test new ways of showing art to people of all ages, the Boone Children's Gallery at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has evolved in recent years -- as has the encyclopedic museum itself -- into a space that's especially inviting to families. "Several years ago, our director challenged the entire institution to form a plan to welcome young people," recalls Jane Burrell, assistant vice president of education.
The result was a refocused Boone Children's Gallery, which features hands-on exploration (kids visiting the just-departed "The Pharaoh's World" installation got to wrap a mummy in linen), and the "NexGen" program, which offers free membership to children under 18 (LACMA is the only museum in our survey to do so). Even better, with their membership, NexGen kids can bring an adult with them -- for free.