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6 Kid-Friendly Museums & Theaters in the Twin Cities

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An example of Walker Art Center's "Sensory Friendly Sunday" programming for children on the autistic spectrum / Courtesy Walker Art Center

6 Kid-Friendly Museums & Theaters in the Twin Cities

By Katie Dohman

It’s easy to teach children the magic of the arts—and make a trip super special—with groups and places such as these lighting the way.

Multiple museums, theaters and performing arts groups in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area cater to the littlest ones in the family with special exhibits, performances and events created just for them. Here are six to get you started.

  1. Circus Juventas
    Circus Juventas aerial work

    Talented youth performers at the high-flying Circus Juventas in St. Paul / Circus Juventas

    Circus Juventas

    Where can you find high-flying acrobatics and compelling drama performed by kids? Some of the coolest and most talented youngsters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area train for Circus Juventas’ incredible youth circus, giving Cirque du Soleil a run for its money. Public performances are held in the spring and summer.

  2. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater
    In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater

    Best known for its outstanding puppetry on the move during Minneapolis’ May Day Parade, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theater has been dazzling children and adults alike with its commitment to beautiful, complex storytelling and incredible puppets (no socks or brown paper bags here). On Saturdays, find shows that end in a make-and-take for the little ones. Venues vary by season, so check the website for updates.

  3. Minneapolis Institute of Art
    Atrium gallery at Minneapolis Institute of Arts

    Just south of downtown, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is one of the best free art museums in America / @vevoviolin

    Minneapolis Institute of Art

    The always-free Minneapolis Institute of Art accommodates young families every day—visit the Family Center for books, toys and more—but it really shines on Family Day, held the second Sunday of the month. Kids can see priceless works of art up close and personal, and make their own, plus enjoy live music and dancing.

    Mia also hosts an annual collaboration with public radio station The Current (89.3 FM) called “Rock the Cradle,” which features halls full of kids busting moves and listening to smooth grooves.

  4. Children's Theatre Co.
    Children's Theatre Company How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Children's Theatre Company   / Dan Norman - Children's Theatre Company

    Children's Theatre Co.

    Housed in the same building as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Tony Award-winning Children's Theatre Co. has been entertaining multigenerational audiences for more than 50 years. 

  5. Stages Theatre Co.
    Mary Poppins Jr. at Stages Theatre Co.

    Mary Poppins Jr. at Stages Theatre Co. in Hopkins / Fischeye Films

    Stages Theatre Co.

    A long-beloved organization operating in the beautiful Hopkins Center for the Arts, Stages Theatre Co.’s list of accolades is as warranted as it is long. But what will delight the tykes is seeing other children make some of their favorite stories come to life. Plays appeal to children as young as 18 months, while others begin at age 8 and up—from “Twinkle, Twinkle” to “Annie” and plays based on Louis Sachar and Lois Lowry’s young-adult fiction.

  6. Walker Art Center
    Walker Art Center

    Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

    Walker Art Center

    The iconic Walker Art Center in Minneapolis invites the entire family to visit for free the first Saturday of the month. Nestled among Rothkos, Murakamis and other beloved modernist pieces are opportunities to take in live performances, films, and even chances to make your own art—all the better when surrounded by such beautiful, puzzling and innovative inspiration. Prime hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and activities are best suited to children ages 6-12.

Katie Dohman

Katie Dohman is a freelance writer who loves to tell lifestyle and travel stories. She's also the former style editor for Minnesota Monthly magazine and co-authored "Minnesota 101: Everything You Wanted to Know About Minnesota and Were Going to Ask Anyway." Katie lives in her mid-century home with her husband, three kids and two rescue mutts.