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Dea-scovering Kids Museums

By TakeTheFamily
Mum and child at National Army Museum © Visit BritainMum and child at National Army Museum © Visit Britain

So - we're not on our way to Rome (yet), although the guidebooks are still spread over my desk and the draft schedule written. But in the meantime, I've noticed there are plans for a Children's Museum in London, as part of the King's Cross redevelopment. It made me think whether a museum specifically for children is really what we want. I know some families enjoy them (see Rhonda's article on Eureka! in Halifax, the people behind the new London venture), but personally I prefer to chat to my kids in front of a really interesting object, rather than watch them push buttons and pull levers while I finger the crayons and play with the pipe cleaners, just a little bit bored.

I have enjoyed museums aimed specifically at children. Despite its terrifying title, the Tinderbox Cultural House for Children in Odense, birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, was huge fun. Seven-year-old Savanna dressed up as characters from her favourite fairy tales and lay on a pile of mattresses, until she could feel the pea like a real life princess. (And I've written about the museum's fabulous cafe in an Eating with Kids column.) But, if I'm honest, I think I enjoyed it because I just had one child with me, not the usual three. It was a special time for the two of us, when I, too, could become childish. When Savanna's twin brother and older sister are with us, the division between grown ups and kids is far more apparent, and we split into age camps. They play together; I watch.

I'd be worried that's what would happen if we all went together to a Children's Museum. And that if the boyfriend came too, the divisions between different generations would be even wider. I can't imagine getting him to dress up as anything. And the only thing he's ever made from pipe cleaners is something to unblock a hose on the Hoover.

I haven't yet visited any of Americas many Children's Museums - which is where the children's museum movement started. If you have, let me know what you think.

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