Strollers can be brought into all Museum buildings. Strollers are restricted to the ground floor of Cà d’Zan mansion. Stollers are available in each venue on a first come, first served basis. However, strollers may only be accommodated on our especially designed ADA tram. This tram is equipped with a ramp and an enclosed space so visitors may load their wheelchair or stroller on to it safely. Wheelchairs have priority when loading. Please be patient as not all of the trams are so equipped.
Restrooms and Drinking Fountains
All venues have restrooms with changing tables and water fountains. Family restrooms are available in the Museum of Art lobby, Searing Wing, Cà d’Zan, and Banyan Café.
The Banyan Café is located across from the Circus Museum and offers family-friendly fare like hot dogs, chicken fingers, and salads in a cafeteria setting. It is open 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily.
If you’d rather pack a snack, picnic tables are available between the Banyan Café and the Rose Garden. Tables are available on a first come, first served basis. Please remember that no food or drinks are allowed in the galleries.
Before entering the galleries, remind your children that it is important that they always stay three steps away from the objects. Help your children remember not to touch objects by having them put their hands in their pockets whenever they feel the urge to touch. For young children, consider bringing a soft plush animal for your child to hold as your tour the Museum. Encourage your children to use their “inside” voices when talking. If your children have lots of energy, the lawn around the Banyan Café makes an excellent running field.
- Allow your children to enjoy the Museum at their own pace. Remember, you don’t have to see everything in one day.
- Young children learn best in 10-15 minute intervals. Consider visiting small portions of a few venues rather then one in depth. Encourage children to hop or skip their way to the next building or play a game of “Simon says” or “Red light, Green light” as you walk to the next building. This will break the visit into smaller portions.
- Each time you visit, explore the Museum in a new way. Some ideas are:
- Shape day- Try to find as many examples of each shape as you can.
- Color day- Choose one color and try to find as many example of it as possible.
- Animal day- Create an imaginary zoo as you search the Museum for animals. (Great for visiting the Circus Museum and Tibbals Learning Center)
- Home day- Search the galleries for objects you have at home. How many objects do you have in common? (Great for visiting Cà d’Zan)
- Alphabet day- Begin with the letter “A” and look for things in the galleries that start with each letter of the alphabet (i.e.: “Animals, Bowls, Cups…”).
- Play gallery games such as:
- Eye Spy –Choose an object and describe it. Take turns guessing what the object is. Babies, angels, columns, lions and food are always popular items for this game.
- Gallery shopping- Have children pick out their favorite thing in each gallery. Ask why they chose that item.
- Be a poser- Choose 2 to 3 paintings or sculptures with people in them. Try to get into the same poses as them. Remember to be careful of the other people and objects around you.
- Find a realistic painting or sculpture and write a story. Who are the people in the artwork? Where are they? What are they doing? What happened before this moment? What happens next?
In The Galleries
Museum of Art
- For first time visitors with children, galleries 15-21 make a short, easy introduction to the Museum of Art (turn left when you enter the main entrance of the Museum). These galleries highlight a number of portraits, mythological stories, ancient pottery, and modern art with large, colorful pieces.
- Dealing with nudity in artwork:
- Children will look to you for how to behave around nude figures. If you are comfortable with the nudity, they will be too.
- Focus on the meaning of the artwork instead of the nudity, especially if the piece is based on a story.
- Discuss how most artists were studying how the human figure moves and looks. Think about how hard it would be to draw your hand if you were wearing gloves!
- Children of all ages are welcome in Cà d’Zan. Children under age 8 generally enjoy exploring the outside of the building with the Cà d’Zan Architecture family guide even more than touring the interior. Narrow walkways make visiting the inside of Cà d’Zan with young children very challenging, especially for strollers.
- When visiting with children, we recommend self-guiding through the first floor of Cà d’Zan. If taking a guided tour of the first and second floors, please remember that strollers are only allowed on the ground floor of the>Cà d’Zan mansion and must be left at the base of the stairs with Security when the tour goes to the second floor.
- Make sure to look up when touring the Cà d’Zan. Many of the ceilings are painted with bright, colorful designs that will interest children. Have them compare and contrast the different ceilings then choose their favorite.
- Make sure to visit the interactive spaces in both circus museums to design circus posters, read books, complete puzzles, and more.
- Thursday mornings at the Circus Museum are extra special! Visit the woodcarver’s station and meet some of the talented artists who design and carve circus animals.
- While viewing the model in the Tibbals Learning Center, help your children create a story based on what they see. If they get stuck for ideas, remind them to look at the model for inspiration. Some story starters are:
- As a clown, I always….
- My first day working for the circus was crazy. It started in the early morning when I….
- You’ll never guess what happened at the circus today….
At Home Activities
- Remember the Ringling by reading a book. We recommend the following books:
- If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
- Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer
- The Art Book for Children by Phaidon Press
- Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga
- Renaissance or Archeology (DK Eyewitness series)
- Once Upon a Picture by Sally Swain
- Read your child’s favorite book with them while focusing on the images, rather then the words. This is a great way to practice looking before coming to the museum. Ask your child how they think the art was made (drawings, photographs, paintings, collage, etc). Do they look realistic? What is the first thing you noticed in the picture? Why? What colors do you see in the pictures?
- Create an exhibition. Buy postcards of your favorite works in the Museum store or use your own artwork to create an exhibition of artwork at home. Decide where pieces should be hung and why.
- Encourage your children to reflect on their trip by drawing, writing, or talking about what they saw at the Museum. What was their favorite thing? What didn’t they like? Why?