Happy Museum Monday! It’s been a while since we had a Museum Explorers interview, where families share their favourite museums with you. This month I thought I would answer the questions myself, and share some of *our* favourite museums!
1. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?
Hi, I’m Jenni, I’m 41 and I live in Edinburgh with my husband and two boys, Mr Fox (age 5) and Oskar (age 9). I have worked in museums for over 15 years, so have experience of museums both as a visitor and from the other side.
2. How old were your kids when you started taking them to museums, and what was the first museum you remember taking them to?
Both my boys were just a couple of weeks old when I took them to a museum. For Oskar, it was the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, where I was working at the time, to show him off to my colleagues. With Mr Fox, it was the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which we lived next too and which also had the nearest cafe to our house so we would visit there quite frequently.
Mr Fox at the Jewish Museum Berlin, age 2 months
3. What’s the last museum you visited as a family and how was it?
We visited the Museum of Childhood here in Edinburgh during the Christmas holidays last week. It’s a great little museum, which covers all aspects of childhood and has a lot of toys on display too. There are lots of interactive things for kids to do, including a storytelling tent, dressing up, building with magnetic tiles, and various toys and games to play with. One of the galleries was closed for refurbishment (and will stay closed until probably after Easter), but there was still lots to see. And admission is free!
Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh
4. Can you share any particularly memorable family museum experience?
There have been so many memorable moments, it’s hard to choose! We have literally visited dozens of museums together as a family in the past nine years since Oskar was born. One very special moment that stands out though, is taking Oskar with me to the ‘Lange Nacht der Museen‘ (Engl: Long Night of Museums) in Berlin, which takes place every summer. He was 5 the first time we went, and then we went again the following year before moving back to Edinburgh. It starts in the afternoon and goes on until after midnight, and museums all over the city take part. There are well over 100 museums in Berlin, and one ticket gets you in to all of them that night and doubles up as a ticket for local transport too or you can use one of the shuttle buses. We didn’t stay out until midnight, but we did make it until about 10pm and visited 3 to 4 different museums each time.
Long Night of Museums 2016, Berlin
5. What is your all time favourite museum to visit as a family?
I think our all time favourite museum visit as a family has to be to the Världskulturmuseet (or World Culture Museum) in Gothenburg, which we visited a couple of years ago when the boys were 1 and 5. Specifically the ‘Tillsammans’ (Engl: ‘together’) exhibition, which is all about how both wonderful and difficult it is to be together with other people, and combines opportunities to touch, play and learn with over 1000 original artefacts from the museum’s world cultures collection. From the moment you step in to the exhibition and are asked to remove your shoes and “let your feet explore the exhibition!” you know this is going to be a museum visit of the extraordinary kind. You can read a more detailed review of it, with lots of pictures, in my previous post about the Världskulturmuseet.
6. What museum that you have not yet been to would you love to visit with your kids?
Again, so many! I visited Amsterdam on my own a couple of years ago, and really loved the Scheepvartmuseum (Engl: Maritime Museum) there which I thought my boys would love, so I would really like to take them there. I’d also like to take them to London, which has so many great museums for families, including the Transport Museum and the Natural History Museum. And Oskar would really love to visit the Titanic Belfast experience in Northern Ireland, because he studied the Titanic at school.
7. What is the most unusual museum you’ve ever visited at a family?
I’d say probably the Cupnoodles Museum in Yokohama last year. Who would have thought you could fill a whole museum with the history of Cupnoodles!The museum invites visitors to see, touch, play, listen and, of course, eat. You learn everything there is to know about the invention and development of Cupnoodles, and you can design and create your own pack of Cupnoodles to take home. There’s even a parcours for kids, where you can experience the Cupnoodles production cycle from the noodle’s point of view. It really was an amazing experience, and we stayed for four hours! Again, you can read a more detailed review of it, with lots of pictures, in my previous post about the Cupnoodles Museum.
Cupnoodles Museum, Yokohama
8. And, finally, do you have any tips or advice for other families on how to make museum visits with kids run more smoothly?
Yes! I actually shared my Top 10 Tips for Visiting Museums with Kids last year, on International Museum Day. You can read them in full if you follow the link, but in short they are:
- Adjust your expectations and e realistic about what you’re going to see.
- If the museum is very big, don’t try to see everything, just zone in on one area.
- Let your children be your guide and lead the way.
- Think about what time of day works best for your family’s routine.
- Make sure your children are well fed.
- Know where the toilets are!
- Engage your children in what they are seeing.
- If your children have reached their limit, keep the visit short and sweet.
- Be prepared for repetition – just like kids like to read the same books over and over, they like to go and see the same things over and over.
- Think outside the box and visit different kinds of museums.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing about our favourite museums. If you would like to take part in the Museum Explorers interview series, and have some favourite museums you have visited as a family that you would like to share, then please get in touch!