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Ben at the end of a great museum day
Leo, Sabine & Violette, laughing about something at the bakery
Ben showing Leo the scat collection
Ben shows off his favorite - the scat collection
Hmmm, bear poop?  I can't remember.  Thanks for exposing us to this, Ben!
Mmm, bear poop. Ben -- thanks for introducing this to Leo!

Museum Guard Quote of the Day:

“Do you have a lot of money?”

(this was the guard’s way of asking me to pick up my camera from the floor of the kids’s area where we were sprawled out playing with blocks and puzzles)

Polar Bears at the PEM

“Are you visting the museum?” asked the guard.  Why else would two adults and two children be inside the museum?  Would it be that hard to just say, “Welcome to the Peabody Essex — we’re so glad you are here”?

And then the woman who doles out the buttons asked if Sophie and I live at the same address.  If she bothered to look at the membership info, she would have figured that out .  Why can’t they be a little friendlier there???  Or at least assume the best of people instead of the worst.  Whoever is in charge of reception must scare the living daylights out of all of these people.

Despite all that, we had fun at the polar bear sculpture studio.

Sculpting polar bears
Sculpting polar bears

Sophie has fun too
Sophie has fun too

Great Kids’ Museum near Boston

We’ve been there many times before, but today we had another great time at the Peabody Essex Museum.  Though not officially a “children’s museum”, they try really hard to make kids welcome.  And now they’ve added a fun scavenger hunt in the form of this brochure, with two tear-off cards that kids can easily hold on to.

It’s their way (it seems) of getting kids to explore more than just the first floor of the museum, where the child-oriented “Idea Studio” is located.  The four year olds had fun doing the search, but the six year old with us, Lily, was really the one who could find the objects.

The shows in the kids’ room last for a year — the origami show is now over and a new one, Polar Attractions, is up. To see a cool slide show of some art (which you really won’t get to look at if you’re chasing small children), click here.

Here are more photos of what they had fun doing –

Caressing the Deborah Butterfield horse sculpture in the atrium
Caressing the Deborah Butterfield horse sculpture in the atrium
Looking into a periscope installation called Polar Peek-A-View
Looking into a periscope installation called Polar Peek-A-View
Inside one of the  "Peek-A-View"s
Inside one of the Peek-A-Views
Making up stories with the story tiles (always a favorite)
Making up stories with the story tiles (always a favorite)Playing a game
Designing a fish
Designing a fish
Hearing Nancy read "Edward the Emu" from one of the great activity boxes
Story with finger puppets from the activity boxes
doing the limbo underneath it)
Contemplating modern Native-American art (not pictured: doing the limbo underneath it)

Rainy Saturday

Finn and his man purse

We met up with Finn & Steph at the A&J King Bakery in Salem, MA where they make the world’s best sticky buns. Finn does a good job here of trying to fit it into his mouth

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Leo does his best Tom Brady impression

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Leo and Finn show off their unique sense of style on Front Street.

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Finn getting up close & personal with the folk art Noah’s Ark at the Peabody Essex

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Leo admiring his favorite museum object, the model of the Cunard Line RMS Queen Elizabeth, built in 1949 by Bassett-Lowke Ltd. 

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Finn, with his man purse, takes a break from all the art.

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Maori Tattoo Exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum

There’s a new show at the PEM on Maori facial tattoos.  The photos are beautiful — you can see some here:

http://pem.org/exhibitions/showcase.php#id=Maori&num=1

or even more here

http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2008/02/20080227_b_main.asp

If you want your own, you can go visit Trevor Marshall just up the road in New Hampshire

http://www.oceanictattoo.com/contact.htm

Kids at the Peabody Essex

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).

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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!)

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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?

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