One way to judge a city’s cultural scene is through its museums. One way to judge a city’s family cultural scene, is through kid-friendly museum programming. Here are three “adult” museums in San Francisco that encourage families to bring kids, with unique events aimed solely at young ones.
SFMOMA: Kids may tour museums via school field trips, but that’s no fun for the parents left behind. Twice monthly family programs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) lets Mom and Dad -- and even the grandparents -- tag along. Family Sundays include free admission for kids under age 12, and they’ll be treated to a family tour, hands-on art projects, book readings, and movie screenings. Each month sports a different theme. 151 Third Street.
Contemporary Jewish Museum: The CJM has several ways to get the kids thinking about (and creating) art at this new museum south of Market. Every Sunday, the museum offers drop-in art making, with topics relating to current museum exhibits, traditions, architecture, and holidays. The second Sunday of the month, the CJM opens early for preschoolers and their families, with interactive, kid-friendly ways to explore the museum.
If you show up with the kiddos any other day, just ask for a free Family Art Pack, with age-appropriate activities to engage the kids in the exhibits. Entry for kids at the CJM is always free, and you don’t need to be Jewish to participate or enjoy the museum. 736 Mission Street. Stay at the Sheraton Palace Hotel, and you’ll be in walking distance to both the SFMOMA and CJM.
de Young Museum: This Golden Gate Park masterpiece reopened a few years ago, housed in a modern and architecturally interesting structure -- but the kids probably won’t care much about that. Instead, they’ll go for the kid-friendly tour and studio workshops, where they’ll create their own art. These programs, aimed at kids ages 4-12, run each Saturday, with morning or afternoon sessions.
Or register for a free, weekday after-school program -- available even if you’re visiting from out of town. Those classes meet twice, so if you’re in town long enough and can commit to both, sign up! Programs are free after paid admission. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. Stay downtown at Le Meridien and take the bus for a leisurely ride to Golden Gate Park.
--Debbie Abrams Kaplan of www.friscokids.net and Kaplan Ink.