Visiting an art museum with your children is one of those-meaningful. Aducational activities can always aspire.

But what happens-once-you walk through the gallery doors? Maybe you haven’t had an art class since high school (or earlier). Maybe you’re not quite sure how to talk with your kids about an exhibition in the same way you would about a picture book or a favorite TV show.

Once you’re at the museum, how can you actually get your kids thinking and talking about art?

We asked Eve Ewing, an educator, artist, and writer, if we could share the conversation starters she originally published on the Boston Children’s Museum’s Power of Play blog. As the museum’s inaugural artist-in-residence, Ewing created an installation called “A Map Home,” which encompassed themes of place, childhood adventure, and how we make meaning of our everyday surroundings through text and image. In addition to her work in the arts, Ewing is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her research focuses on race, social inequality, urban policy, and public schools.


In her post, Ewing outlines six ideas for parents who want to use art as a point of connection with their children:

  1. Let children lead the way. “What would you like to look at?” or “Take me to a painting that you want to see!” invites them to survey the space and find something that looks interesting to them.
  2. A question like “What do you see here?” or “What do you notice?” is a simple but fruitful place to start.
  3. You can use a pretend game to invite children to describe what they see in detail. “Let’s pretend we’re calling (grandma, auntie, friend) and let’s tell them about this painting. They can’t see it so you have to tell them everything!”
  4. Encourage children to share emotional responses. “How does looking at this make you feel? What parts of the painting make you feel that way?” Emphasize that art does not always need to be pretty, and it’s okay to have a range of feelings (including sadness or anger) when looking at a piece of art.