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.
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.
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.