publication date: Feb 5, 2009
If your children have ever been made to feel unwelcome in a gallery or museum (and who hasn't had that experience at least once?) you'll be sympathetic to the cause of Kids in Museums and their 2009 manifesto.
- Be welcoming - from the café to the curator. Emphasise the museum is family-friendly in publicity and on the website.
- Be accessible - with lifts, automatic doors, wheelchair-user friendly activities, and a place to store a pushchair. Remember not every kid or adult can do activities on the floor.
- Give a hand to parents to help their children enjoy the museum. Don’t presume adults have been to a museum before. They may need support too.
- Be interactive and hands on - so kids can touch objects and learn to know what they’re allowed to handle and what they aren’t.
- Be height aware - display objects, art and signage low enough for a child to see. Footstools could help.
- Have lots of different things to do - art carts, picture trails, interactive experiences, storytelling, dressing-up - for different ages, so parents don’t have to do all the work.
- Produce guides and trails aimed at children, but also ones that kids and adults can use together.
- Provide healthy, good value food, high chairs and unlimited tap water.
- Provide great toilets with baby changing facilities, where you can take a pushchair. It’s probably the one place in a museum every family will visit.
- Teach kids respect - for the objects and other visitors. Help them to learn there are things they shouldn’t touch. Tell them why.
- Sell items in the shop that aren’t too expensive and not just junk, but things kids will treasure.
- Have free entry where possible, or have family tickets allowing re-entry. Don’t dictate the size or shape of a family!
- Don’t make assumptions about what kids do and don’t like. Kids can appreciate fine art as well as finger painting. Consult with kids - not just adults or parents - about what they want.
- Provide some open space - inside and outside - where kids can run about and let off steam.
- Provide some quiet space, where kids can reflect and families can sit down together.
- Don’t say ssssshush! Museums are places for families to chat, have conversations and discuss.
- Don’t forget teenagers. They’re valuable visitors, bringing fresh ideas. Have a special place for them to gather and store their stuff.
- Have dedicated family friendly days, when extra activities are laid on and those who want to avoid crowds can choose not to attend.
- Remember there’s no typical family. Families can span generations, including toddlers, teenagers and grandparents. A visit should be enjoyable for the whole family together - not just the kids.
- Remember the visit doesn’t end when a family leaves. Many families make a great effort to visit and want the experience to last. Have follow-up activities, including on the website, and invitations to come back.