Kids in Museums release their Manifesto

I heard a bit of an interview this morning on CBC Radio (Q with host Jian Ghomeshi) about a group started in the UK called “Kids in Museums.” This is a group that was founded by a journalist when her two year old son was kicked out of a Museum (along with her and two other children) for yelling “Monster!” at an Aztec statue.

As both a father and as someone who advocates to try to get students into museums, a group called “Kids in Museums” is very compelling.

The history of the group and the groundswell of support it has garnered can be found at:

http://www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk/about/

They have recently (February 5th) released a twenty point “Manifesto” and are asking museums and art galleries to consider signing up to endorse these statements.

It reads:

Our Manifesto

WE’RE DELIGHTED WITH THE NEW 2009 KIDS IN MUSEUMS MANIFESTO, compiled entirely from visitors’ comments.The 2009 Kids in Museums Manifesto is a practical and powerful tool to encourage and support museums and galleries around the country to make family visits more enjoyable and engaging.

Our Manifesto has evolved in the years since its launch in 2003, reflecting the ways in which museums have met the challenge and are increasingly giving families fantastic experiences.Here’s the latest version – have a read and see what you think.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions so that we can make sure the Manifesto keeps in touch with what’s going on already and what needs to happen next.

Kids in Museums Manifesto

1 Be welcoming – from the café to the curator. Emphasise the museum is family friendly in publicity and on the website.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 Be height aware – display objects, art and signage low enough for a child to see. Footstools could help.

6 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.

7 Produce guides and trails aimed at children, but also ones that kids and adults can use together.
8 Provide healthy, good-value food, high chairs and unlimited tap water.

9 Provide great toilets with baby changing facilities, where you can take a pushchair. It’s probably the one place in the museum every family will visit.

10 Teach kids respect – for the objects and other visitors. Help them to learn there are things they shouldn’t touch. Tell them why.

11 Sell items in the shop that aren’t too expensive and not just junk, but things kids will treasure.
12 Have free entry where possible, or have family tickets allowing re-entry. Don’t dictate the size or shape of a family!

13 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.

14 Provide some open space – inside and outside – where kids can run about and let off steam.

15 Provide some quiet space, where kids can reflect and families can sit down together.

16 Don’t say ssssshush! Museums are places for families to chat, have conversations and discuss.

17 Don’t forget teenagers. They’re valuable visitors, bringing fresh ideas. Have a special place for them to gather and store their stuff.

18 Have dedicated family friendly days, when extra activities are laid on and those who want to avoid crowds can choose not to attend.

19 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.

20 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.

You can read more about the group and its manifesto at:

http://www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk/our-manifesto/

(If you would like to hear the interview, visit CBC Radio’s Q website and follow the links to the podcast of past shows: http://www.cbc.ca/q/)