While Mylo Freeman can share a trip with Princess Arabella at the Museum, from Cassava Republic, 2020 has brought the rest of us different options. Who knew this would be a banner year to discover all sorts of museums, to visit great works of art up close, delve into the natural past, find out more about technology, and see how scientific principles work in the world and the galaxy? And yet, it is! Both in free online opportunities and new books for kids, “getting to the museum” has never been more accessible, no matter where you live.
Before we start our tour of other options, let’s look for guidance at Mary Richards’s Take Me to Museums: The Young Explorer’s Guide to Every Museum in the World, newly available in North America from Agnes & Aubrey. This combination activity book and informational package opens with an explanation of what a museum is and how museum buildings are designed for the purpose of inviting exploration of their specialized collections. Young readers can also learn about museum jobs and, of course, the variety of museum types and purposes. Arranged to allow kids to take notes and make drawings of what they see, you can even use this guidebook as you explore virtual museums during this time of travel restrictions and building closures.
What On Earth Books has worked with New York’s American Museum of Natural History in the creation of some of their informational titles. You can create your own natural history gallery by mounting the 10 feet of gatefold pages from Nature Timeline Posterbook as a “gallery” exhibit. If you are enjoying museum books in a smaller space, check out the four-volume collection of Dinosaurs! Bugs! Plants! and Mammals!, each of which includes heavily illustrated introductions to the title subject matter as a
museum curator would discuss it with a young audience—plus those wonderful gatefolded pages of the “museum’s” contents is bound into the back.
Do museums make you think about world-class artworks on display? Have fun with Greg and Amy Newbold’s series from Tilbury House. Available in paperback as well as hardcover editions, each of If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur, If Picasso Painted a Snowman, and If Monet Painted a Monster is stuffed with both wit and wisdom about painting and painters from around the world and through time. This is a world-class introduction to painterly styles and each volume includes biographies of every artist included in the title. Get out your own paint set and try your hand at imagining how your favorite painter might encourage you to see something they never painted!
Combine your museum book explorations with some real-time gallery surfing online, too. Click through to “19 immersive museum exhibits you can visit from your couch” and start looking at art, natural history, and cultural collections, as well as instructive videos that act as a curator’s exhibit choices might if you were visiting in person.
We may be staying in place for months to come, but we can still explore great museums around the world!