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June 14, 2012

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Paul Orselli

Since we explicitly call ourselves "children's" museums, will a certain segment of those adult caregivers never think there can be anything inside for grown-ups, regardless of design and/or environmental approaches? (Perhaps the same adults who question why they have to pay admission at a CHILDREN'S museum ...)

Ian Simmons

What people say and what they actually do are different. While they might articulate the reason for going as being for the child, they are none the less with them by default and may well be gaining many of the benefits we hope they will, just not casting it that way linguistically, particularly when, as Paul says, we give them a big cue by calling the places Children's Museums.

Anne Dealy

I struggle with this myself as the mother of a 4-year-old and a museum professional. We have a membership at one of the biggest and best children's museums in the country with a fantastic object collection, and yet I do not really go there for myself. For one, I can't really read the labels or consider the objects on display when my child requires constant attention (my question is, does ANYONE really pay attention to these things at a children's museum?) I often feel like I'm in a playground with some material on the walls for grown ups. If I get a second I might look at it and maybe I'll share something with him, but honestly he is not there for that type of learning, so neither am I. Partly this is due to his personality, partly the exhibits are designed for active play, not contemplation or consideration. Once he outgrows the museum, we probably won't be members any more and won't go unless there is something really compelling to see. I find myself thinking about our visits, wondering how to make an object-based museum child-friendly without making the objects window dressing. I feel like the staff's interpretive efforts at this museum are lost on most of the people visiting the institution.

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