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Destination: N.C. Museum of Art's family tours

The free 30-minute tours on the weekends are designed for kids ages 5 to 10 and their parents. It's just one of the many programs the museum offers for tots to teens.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
A few years ago, a trip through the N.C. Museum of Art with my older daughter involved us searching for babies and princesses in the paintings and sculptures.

Now that's she's a rising first grader, that's really not going to cut it anymore. She's curious about what she's looking at. And, frankly, I am too.

And that's why I'm so glad the N.C. Museum of Art is now offering weekend family tours. The 30-minute tours are designed for kids ages 5 to 10 and their parents. UPDATE: The tours are usually Saturday and Sunday mornings. Check the art museum's calendar to find out when they are offered.

These are free and no registration is required. You can just show up. And, while the museum's website notes that attendance is on a "first come, first served" basis, my daughter and I were the only ones on a tour the other weekend.

During the tours, a docent takes visitors to a handful of works in the museum, shares some information about each piece and asks the kids a few questions. There's always an activity at at least one of the pieces. When we went the other weekend, my daughter picked out symbols on a sarcophagus.

Chris Nemec, the docent who led our tour, said other activities include asking tour participants to make their best representation of a sculpture or involves making a group story about a piece.

It's up to the well-trained docents to decide which pieces they'll talk about on the tour. So every tour is different. And Nemec said docents always ask before each tour if participants have ever been on one to ensure there isn't any overlap. We'll definitely be back for another tour. It's a fun activity for a hot summer afternoon. I especially think it will be a great outing when grandparents are in town.

Of course, the tours are a small piece of the museum's programs for kids and families. Some of the museum's outdoor summer concert and movies are family-friendly, including Saturday's screening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I."
They also include the What's in the Box series for kids ages 2 to 5 twice a month on Thursdays; Family Fun Saturdays for kids ages 5 and up;  and children's performances on some Wednesdays in the summer and Saturdays during the school year.
There's a new program for tweens. Sketchbook Saturdays are geared toward kids ages 11 to 14, who will learn how to keep an artist's sketchbook.

The museum also is expanding its offerings for  teens. There's a new Teen Advisory Council. Applications to be a part of the group are due by Sept. 1. For more information about that, contact Michelle Harrell at mharrell@ncartmuseum.org.

Learn more about what the art museum offers from Kristin Smith, the museum's coordinator of youth and family programs, and catch a couple of scenes of the family tour in the video.

Looking for other things to do with kids? Check our park and playground reviews and list of Triangle family destinations.

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