Life with Leo

December 10, 2007

Kids at the Peabody Essex

Filed under: Kids in museums, Peabody Essex Museum — fehlhaber @ 10:47 pm

It’s a great museum — we go there about once a month. But here are a few things they could do better.

Kids are welcome in the Idea Studios and the Art & Nature Center, but elsewhere, guards often look afraid when you enter a gallery with children. You should see some of the looks we’ve gotten while walking around the museum. One guard was hesitant to open the door to us for the 3rd floor special exhibition. I’m not making this up — something like this happens nearly every time we go.

Maybe this is because there’s not much for kids to do in most of the museum. There aren’t any special signs for kids to read or things to touch (other than in the children’s area).


We have been shushed at the museum, but never thrown out, not like this woman. Dea Birkett went on to found Kids in Museums, a non-profit in the UK devoted to making museums more family-friendly. They have a manifesto with ideas like more art carts (I didn’t know this term, but found a picture of one here at the Tate Modern in London — what a cool idea! I’d love to see kids running around with scissors at the PEM!). To be honest, the PEM has done a lot of the things on the list, but they could definitely improve the kid-friendliness of the majority of the galleries.

Anyone care to add anything?

PS — Here is the ship Vera refers to in her comment (see that she is holding Finn, clearly due to the apoplectic guard!)


Leo is old enough to not try to climb on this ship, but it is hard for younger kids to walk through here without getting into trouble.  Why not have some hands on ships near by to divert their attention in a positive way?



  1. Have you been to Zeum in SF? All hands-on, high-tech stuff. Green screens, clay-mation, stop-motion, computer music making, etc. Fun for everyone!

    Comment by Elizabeth — December 12, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  2. Not yet, but sounds great. Maybe on our next trip!

    Comment by fehlhaber — December 12, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

  3. I love the art trolly. They are just crabby and anxious at PEM. I don’t get why…

    Comment by sophie — December 12, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  4. They have even cut down on the amoount of stuff in the children’s gallery. I remember taking Finn to see the model of the Queen Elizabeth – or is it the Queen Mary? the last time I was there. The poor guard was apoplectic!

    Comment by Grandma — December 13, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  5. I’m Director of Kids in Museums, so delighted to read about PEM and all the good family visits you’ve had there.

    We have discussion boards on our website where you can leave comments about good experiences and bad, as well as contribute to the Kids in Museums Manifesto. Look forward to seeing your comments there!

    Dea Birkett

    Comment by Dea Birkett — August 4, 2008 @ 5:31 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: