Metropolitan Museum of Art

A mother tongue lures visitors to museums

A mother tongue lures visitors to museums

As the Americans who are at least 5 years old and speak a language other than English at home now exceed 20 percent of the population, museums across the country are responding with bilingual and non-English educational programs for all ages.

Offered in languages including Spanish, Russian, Mandarin and Persian, the programs are at a wide variety of institutions, including art, children’s and natural history museums. They do everything from celebrating holidays like the Day of the Dead, observed by many Latinos, to teaching technology and crafts to adults who have not mastered English.

“To succeed in the 21st century, a museum needs to be responsive to its audience and align...