The Museum Kids’ Area

Caitlin and I have a family membership at the ROM, which means that I can go any time I want for free, and take Nefarious and a friend along as well. My only complaint about the museum is the existence of the kids area, which is really just a play area where kids goof around — nothing particularly museum related. Trouble is, stuff like this is a “cheap thrill” for kids, and many would rather go there than go to the effort of exploring the museum. Personally I wish they’d eliminate it — it’s not just a waste of space, but actually takes away from the whole excursion.

I can’t wait until she’s just a little bit older and can really enjoy the museum experience…



  1. wlfdrgn wrote:

    I like the idea of a kids area. Go explore the galleries until the kids get restless/noisy, then go to the kids area to let them burn off some energy, then back to the galleries again Repeat as needed.

    Being an art museum, it’d be nice if the play area were heavily art-based, though. Plenty of clay, watercolor paints, etc.

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  2. peteD3 wrote:

    that picture is….

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  3. Jill wrote:

    This isn’t related to your last post, but I just read your interview with Lukas…

    “I’m legally forbidden from blogging about body modification or running anything “competing”.”

    I think this line from your interview speaks volumes. If you were just a figure head/mascot/puppet, then you wouldn’t really be able to create a competing site, right?

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  4. Tom H wrote:

    Interesting post, I’m currently working on a project at uni looking into museum design, and one of the key issues I find with museums (particularly art museums) is the lack of motivation for kids to take an interest. It’s proving difficult to find a solution though without ostracizing the adults.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  5. wlfdrgn wrote:

    Tom, in addition to my previous idea, something I’ve seen in some zoos and museums in specific touching areas. For an art museum, it’s easy to make some various sculptures out of various materials, etc, and just let everyone touch them. I think kids are more tactile than adults, since adults have usually had everything beat out of them except audio and visual inputs.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink
  6. Zi wrote:

    I’m a historian by trade, and I HATE kids areas in museums. They drive me insane. I got into the work I do by being dragged around museums and art gallerys by my grandfather when I was younger. It is perfectly easy to make even the most stuffy place accessible to children, (and get them to engage with the artifacts/works) without giving them a ball pool. I used to LOVE playing eye spy in art gallerys. I remeber being taken to the National Gallery in London, and shown Hogarth’s Marriage a-la Mode, when I was maybe 6 or 7, and being asked if I could spy something scary beginning with S in the 3rd picture (there is a skeleton in the closet!) Most galleries and museums could put together (and some do) something simple like this for children, or parents with a little imagination, could easily do something!
    Its not rocket science, and once you’ve got a young person interested, you’ve got them for life!

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
  7. Caitlin wrote:

    I went to the newly re-opened AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) with my father a couple weeks ago and the place was over run with strollers and small children. It was a total nightmare. There is no children’s area there, so kids are bored and restless, they run around and scream and bump into art and get their sticky hands all over everything. Yes, I do think that kids should be exposed to art from the get go, but dragging them to an art gallery really does seem the epitome of torture. It made our trip (and tickets are about $20 each) get cut short. Ari’s been creating art for years and we wouldn’t DREAM of bringing her there. And she’s almost 6. (Or 5 and 5/4’s as she says).

    What’s the big deal about having a place where adults can go and expect that they won’t have their ankles bashed by a stroller? Free stuff is much more fun for kids (like the park!) and will actually be appreciated-not just by the children, but by people who really do want to enjoy the gallery!

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink
  8. Zi wrote:

    I’m British, the big art galleries and museums are free/cheap, and even the ones that weren’t 15 years ago had things for kids to do that didn’t involve a ball pool and a foam play area…
    Also I hate competeing with peoples ferrel children in museums, and putting a play area there just seems like an impetus to take them!
    Museums should be a place for adults to engage with their kids about their surroundings; like you said, you knew Ari woulden’t enjoy it, so you didn’t take her, I don’t think its the lack of kids play area that the problem.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  9. wlfdrgn wrote:

    Caitlin, I’ve been in some museums and aquariums, and buildings at zoos, where no strollers are allowed, to avoid that very thing. I think it’s the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky where they’ll loan you a free kid-carrying backpack, and check your stroller free in trade for one, if you happen to walk in the door with it. The Rainforest at the Cleveland Zoo allows strollers only if it’s a slow day. For normal or busy days, strollers must be left outside.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  10. Caitlin wrote:

    ZI, in Canada we pay for everything. It sucks. Even the Detroit Institute of Art is pay what you can. Every museum here is expensive. If the AGO were free, I could see bringing a little kid there for an hour here, an hour there, get them used to the idea of art in a bigger context, different styles, mediums all that. We can’t afford to do that.

    Is it that rich people are more selfish and stupid than non-rich people? I went to see a musical last Christmas and the group of people I was sitting beside were wearing expensive clothes, had fancy hair and nice shoes. They also talked ALL the way through it and got up, one by one, to push past me and my friends to go to the bathroom. This wasn’t a show I particularly wanted to see, but having people who seem to intentionally wreck it…No, they didn’t have kids with them.

    Wlfdrgn-Toronto is weird about kids. There’s a coffee shop here that was being heavily boycotted by parents because they had a sign on the door that asked parents to leave strollers outside. It’s a small space, no room for the suv type strollers parents insist on using. It’s weird how when some people have kids they start thinking they can do whatever they like regardless of other people in the world.

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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