Saturday, 18 February 2012

Children in museums and galleries

I have just caught up with a very interesting piece about children and culture that was on Woman’s Hour last Thursday. Jeanette Winterson, Rosie Millard and Jenni Murray talked about the value of taking children to museums and galleries, and ways to make visits interesting. All saw avoiding boredom as vital, hardly surprisingly. Rosie Millard has some lovely ways of making gallery trips with her four children playful. Crucially, they never stay very long, and they only look at a few artworks. They buy postcards and then hunt out the pictures, they play compare and contrast games, they use paintings as the basis for story-telling. (A picture of Charles II on his horse has led to lots of enjoyably gruesome discussions about his execution.) The Grayson Perry exhibition, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, on at the British Museum for just one more week, has been a big hit with children. Items in it like badges fascinate them, but it’s the irreverence and humour of lots of the exhibits that especially appeals. Much food for thought for me in all this in relation to my family learning courses.

Millions of children have never been inside a gallery, museum or theatre. Winterson and Millard were both adamant about the importance of school visits to cultural organisations.

Thank you for the photo to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter, which runs fantastic family and school events.