Is Columbus Museum of Art for kids?

I took the kids to the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio, for the first time earlier this month (November, 2016). It was also my first visit there! Of course, I’ve been to museums before, but not with kids in tow. Given that it’s an art museum, I thought it would be stuffy and boring. So, is it fun for kids?


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➜ At the time of our visit, my children were3 and 4 years old.

The Columbus Museum of Art and Kids

The museum is located in downtown Columbus. It’s a two story building and they opened a new wing recently. Before we went inside, told my kids, “We will be looking at art and we can’t touch anything.”

I had no idea how we would do with that instruction. It is basically the worst order you can give a child.

We walked into the museum and happened to choose the hall that had a dog exhibit! We did breeze past the art (they are young kids, after all) to the first puzzle.  There are large puzzles throughout the museum. They are puzzles of paintings and they sit in front of the painting so you have a guide.


A puzzle of a painting at the Columbus Museum of Art

One of the puzzles at the Columbus Museum of Art. My children loved these and spent about 10 minutes putting one together in a different gallery. Thank goodness you can touch them!

Puzzles, puzzles everywhere

“Are we allowed to touch the puzzle?” I ask the nearby museum associate. I wasn’t sure if it was an exhibit or something we could interact with.

“Yes, you can put the puzzles together,” he said.

When asked what his favorite part of museum was, my 4 year old son said, “The puzzles.”

Big kudos to the museum for having these wonderful and large puzzles!

The museum has another room called the Wonder Room. This room is designed for kids to be able to touch and interact with art, games, and costumes. While there, we made our own sculptures from reusable pieces. We could’ve spent much longer in the Wonder Room at the Columbus Museum of Art, but I wanted to move on and see more of the museum.

Exercising great restraint

Overall, I was impressed that my kids did really well with not touching the things they weren’t supposed to touch. I don’t think I could’ve gone through the museum with them any younger than 3 and 4. The museum does allow babywearing, so it may have worked for me that way. I did see parents with younger kids, including a family with triplets, so it clearly can be done. Be aware that some art pieces do not have anything to prevent a child from running up and touching it. My kids showed great restraint, thankfully.

Like the time when they went galloping up to some art in the middle of room that wasn’t roped off. It was art I didn’t understand, but someone else sees the value… and either way, it did say “do not touch.”

That restraint took a toll, as all parents understand. We only had about an hour to explore until they started getting hungry and rambunctious.

Child playing with wooden pieces to make a sculpture of sorts.

Playing with lovely wooden pieces in the Wonder Room.

Final thoughts

I’m not an artsy person (well, other than acting and such). I don’t understand why some things are considered art (there was a video exhibit or which I clearly missed the point) and there are other things I think are lovely. It is an art gallery, not a children’s museum. However,  the Columbus Museum of Art  does a great job of being accessible for kids, including the hands-on Wonder Room and the puzzles scattered through out. In addition, they offer various classes, even birthday parties!

Sundays are their free day (donations are welcome) and a great day for families. We breezed through in about an hour, which meant very little time for me to admire anything for more than about a minute.

We won’t be regular visitors at this time. If we lived closer, I would consider visiting more often because there is value in free play with different materials than we have at home and exposure to art (even if don’t currently understand some pieces).


More information about The Columbus Museum of Art  is available on their website.

Do you visit art museums with your young kids? Why or why not? Do you like Columbus’ art museum? What’s your favorite museum?


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