We went to Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar with our toddler and had a great time! You might think we are crazy for taking a toddler to a contemporary modern art museum, but let me tell you it is not as scary as you think.
Visiting museums, not the kid-friendly kind, to see abstract painting or objects is something that we feel is a great way of learning about the world for our little one. It’s all about fostering creativity and seeing the world through his eyes. Our little one builds connections between the things he knows and things he sees in his books.He starts to understand that the concrete and literal world around him can be interpreted differently. That is a great basis for future learning!
Tempted to skip visiting museums and exhibitions until your toddler is older?
⇓ Find below our 6 golden rules for visiting museums with a toddler ⇓
The Voorlinden Museum
It is a relatively new museum which opened at the end of 2016. The beautiful museum was founded and is privately owned by Joop van Caldenborgh.
It is on the outskirts of Wassenaar on an old estate called Voorlinden.
The museum building is very modern yet fits into its surroundings.
It’s easy to combine your museum or restaurant visit with a relaxing walk through the surrounding woodlands and dunes.
The old English-style manor next to the museum houses the museum’s restaurant. It has a big terrace and overlooks a well-maintained estate. You know the kind of estate that looks rugged, but is anything but. On the grounds of the Voorlinden estate you can also find a child-friendly hiking trail.
The museum building itself is an architectural pearl,which has been designed with a focus of “actively contributing to the experience of nature inside the building.” The latter is obvious as of the moment you walk through the revolving doors and enter the museums main hall.
Upon entering the building our son immediately pointed at the big windows and the ceiling. He loved the ceiling and kept looking up to announce that the ceiling was full of ‘bubbles’. What he saw were a series of 115.000 diagonal ducts arranged over the entire roof. The ceiling is made of transparent glass, with additional indirect LED lighting incorporated into it, which means the exhibitions spaces are lit by natural daylight. The interior is divided into three general sections in accordance with the museum program: collection presentations (1), temporary exhibitions (2) and the permanent exhibition (3).
OUR 6 GOLDEN RULES for a museum visit with a toddler
# 1 Keep the visit short: Their attention span is short, most kids start becoming fussy after about 30-45 minutes. We know that we can only visit a museum for max 1 hour before we have to deal with a frustrated toddler. We always tag team and set realistic expectations. Visiting a museum with a toddler means you will be able to get a feel for the exhibition, rather than really having the time to appreciate some of the art pieces on display.
# 2 Set yourself up for success : We make sure we arrive at a museum with a well-rested and fed toddler.Furthermore we always either try to visit museums right when they open in the morning or just before they close in the evening. At Museum Voorlinden we arrived about 1 hour before closing time (5pm), as we assumed that the museum would be rather empty just before closing .We were right, there were +/-10 people in the museum. This allows our lively little one a lot of freedom to explore without disturbing too many other visitors.TIP: Book tickets online to avoid queues at the entrance, often museums have combi tickets and discounts on their website that are not available at the ticket desk.
# 3 Expect your toddler to be excited about the colourful art installations: He did try to explore the art installations, as some admittedly looked like oversized toys waiting to be explored. He did thrown more than one tantrum and sat down to cry in frustration when we ( and the guards) crossed his plans to touch the flying kits and pick up the piano keys, but that was to be expected. Don’t panic ,tantrums never lasts long, it is just something he needs to do to voice his frustation and we as parents need to endure. From experience I can assure you the vast majority of people in museums give you a knowing smile and walk on. TIP: Take regular snack breaks. We always after about 30 minutes walk back to the cloakroom for snacktime.
# 4 Make it interesting to a toddler: We knew we had to make the exhibition interesting to him and museum Voorlinden did not have any child-friendly museum guides or games available. So we asked our little one to identify objects he saw. That game kept him occupied for a good 20 minutes. He recently started to use more words and thankfully a lot of the art on display had elements that he could correctly and proudly identify as ‘fish’,’bird’, ‘dog’ and ‘bubbles’.
# 5 Don’t forget to enjoy the museum: Ideally you did your research before you arrive at the museum. i.e. Checked if bags are allowed? Checked if you allowed to bring in food or drinks? Researched if the museum offers kid-friendly guides & co? Does the museum providing strollers or can you bring in your own one? (At Voorlinden we were allowed to bring in our stroller.) Check all this out beforehand so you can plan accordingly. Normally it is easy to find all the info in the ‘plan your visit’ section on the museums website. Once you arrive and hold your entry ticket in your hand, take a deep breath, go with the flow and enjoy your time at the museum.
# 6 Have a plan B: We agreed that since museum Voorlinden has a big park around it, if our little one would not play along, that my hubs would take him to play outside while I was allowed to enjoy the exhibition. Luckily our plan B was not needed on this occassion, as museums Voorlinden permanent collection is very family friendly.
THE PERMANENT EXHIBITION IS VERY CHILD FRIENDLY
We thouroughly enjoyed the permanent exhibition, as that part of the museum is very child-friendly. The fact that we showed up an hour before closing time meant the museum was virtually empty and we had the entire permanent exhibition space to ourselves! Our 4 favourite exhibits were:
Couple under an Umbrella by Ron Mueck
Open Ended by Richard Serra ( fun fact: It weighs almost 216 tonnes. The corten steel work is 4 metres high, 18 metres long and 7 metres wide.)
Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool
When we walked up the stairs leaving the swimming pool, we heard a little elevator ping, and it was our toddler who discoverd this miniature piece of art. It is by Maurizio Cattelan and called Lift.
( We forgot to take a picture, so credit for this pictures goes to:http://www.elevatorworld.com/blogs/tag/miniature-elevator/)
Good to know
# Strollers are allowed in the museum
# The museums restaurant can also be visited without a museum ticket
# Parking is free of charge. It is easiest to get there by bike or car. There is a bus (Connexxion bus 43 and 44 to stop Wittenburgerweg Wassenaar) that stops in the vicinity which connects you to Den Haag and Leiden Centraal Station both within less than 20 minutes. However the walk from the bus stop to the museum is at least 15-20 minutes through a residential area.
# Entrance for adults is 15 EUR, while kids below the age of 12 are free of charge. 13-18 year olds get a 50% discount on the standard price i.e. pay 7, 50 EUR.
This blog is part of my Staycation project Being a tourist in your own city -The Hague/The Netherlands, check out our other posts about things to do and see in The Hague on our where we have been page.
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