Kids in Museums returns to the Royal Academy to celebrate ten years of family friendliness

By Culture24 Reporter | 14 January 2013
A photo of two children at a museum information desk
The annual Takeover Day for children is one of the highlights of the imaginative range of events Kids in Museums can take the plaudits for© Museum of London

Kids in Museums has grown up quickly. A party tonight at the Royal Academy – where the idea for the group began after Dea Birkett’s family were asked to leave because her son reacted noisily to an Aztec statue – will celebrate ten years of family focussed campaigning.

“Our story is a clear indication that change is possible – even in established, prestigious institutions,” says Birkett, who oversees the release of a yearly manifesto championing ways to cater for families in museums, as well as an annual award recognising the places which care for them best.

“The Royal Academy does astounding work with young people and welcomes family visits.

“Kids in Museums is dedicated to making this change possible everywhere, so every museum and gallery puts children and families at their heart.”

Birkett’s original concerns about the heavy-handed treatment afforded to her two-year-old turned out to be indicative of a wider problem. Numerous responses, sent to the Guardian, echoed her original call.

One of her fellow columnists, Mariella Frostrup, is now the Patron of the group.

“It’s great to see how museums have changed over the past ten years, and how Kids in Museums has been such a huge force in making this happen,” she says.

“I remember when museums were stuffy places that you’d be dragged along to by a great aunt. Now teenagers and toddlers can all enjoy the fabulous stuff museums have.

“The Royal Academy and others should be proud of their achievements.

“Now I’m an External Member of Council at the Royal Academy, as well as being Patron of Kids in Museums.

“It just shows how things have really changed.”

In an evening celebrating some poetic symmetries, former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen will blow the candles out on the cake. Arts and museum leaders will be among those raising a toast.

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