Why my View on ‘Kids in Museums’ Changed

I had a skype interview for my PhD earlier this week, and I was so nervous! But as I began chatting with the professors I was reminded of how much changing I have done through this past year during my MLitt. My way of thinking about museums and their activities has drastically shifted.

kid in mud
Chicago Children’s Museum Dinosaur Expedition

I have found myself questioning more things, and one of them is concerning kids in museums- how should they be acting? For years, the sight of a red faced screaming toddler would cause me to flee a gallery. A group of chatty twelve year olds would receive stern looks of intolerance from me- I was a real stick in the mud!

But the fact is that kids belong in museums too. If they are having fun, and learning, who cares if they run around and chat amongst themselves. Sure young toddlers can get on your nerves, but they are being raised with an impression that they too belong in museums. And not just the ‘children’s museums’, but the regular ones too!

I have heard from so many people over the years that they hate museums due to a stuffy gallery assistant who was mean to them as children- what a sad impression we are leaving with our youth. Many museums have recognized this gap between what children need and what museums provide, and are trying to fill it.

Anyone who has seen the look on a kids face knows how amazing their sense of wonder is when they see or hold something for the first time. Let’s aim high and strive to encourage that wonder. I worked at my university museums ‘Night at the Museum’ event on object handling, and can tell first hand how something so simple can impact both a child and a parent.

Object Handling: Night at the Museums, Aberdeen University Museums
Object Handling: Night at the Museum, Aberdeen University Museums

So lets take a second next time we see some kids playing next time we go to a museum, and marvel in the fact that they will have fond memories of their experience, and will want to come back. Museums, let us engage these kids so that they can learn and have fun at the same time- it’s not impossible.

Peace and long life.


3 thoughts on “Why my View on ‘Kids in Museums’ Changed

  1. I agree agree agree! At first read of your title I thought you were referring to the charity ‘Kids in Museums’, for whom I volunteer. Do you know them? I imagine you do but if not you should take a look at their website and their manifesto http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/manifesto-2/ I think they’re fab (but I might be a little bit biased!) and I’d love to know what you think. And best of luck with the PhD application!

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  2. I think museums need to become more inclusive and interactive for people to develop an interest or to learn something new. As you know, I’m working with kids teaching them about science but they teach me so much too! I always loved museums as a child, not to run around in, but to learn and look at the cool stuff they had, but I wish it had been a more interactive experience.

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