Meet a Museum Family #3

May 28, 2015

Kids in Museums

Last month,  I launched a new series here on the blog called ‘Meet a Museum Family’, in which I will be interviewing other museum loving families, and asking them to share their experiences and tips with my readers. I was really delighted that the first two interviews, with my friend Melanie from Copenhagen, and with Amanda from Australia, got such a great reception! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series just as much. This week, we travel to England to talk to Mar Dixon.

mar & C

1. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?

I’m Mar Dixon, which although it sounds like an alias is actually my name and also my Twitter name (@MarDixon). I’m mom to a teenager – and typing that HURT as she just turned a teenager. Charlotte is often referred to as C online – not because I’m hiding her identity but because Charlotte is way too long for Twitter!

2. How old was your daughter when you started taking her to museums, and what was the first museum you remember taking her to?
Charlotte’s first visit to a cultural venue was to MAC in Birmingham, England, when she was 6-7 weeks old. I will assume her first museum was Blists Hill in Shropshire (where we live) but as we have always travelled and been on the go for various projects, I can’t be sure.

3. What is your favourite memory of visiting museums yourself as a child?
I grew up in the States and although I know we went to museums, it wasn’t a normal occurrence (primarily due to cost). One of my favourite memories was at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute and playing in the ‘Heart’ – a large heart that you walked through to learn how the heart works. Now to me, at the time I was probably 9 or 10, I didn’t realise it was learning. Afterwards, when I was talking to my family on the way home, I had that ‘WAIT A MINUTE! I WAS LEARNING TODAY?’ moment, which both shocked and annoyed me (school was never my forte). What was impressive is that I didn’t mind learning if that was how it could be done.

Enginuity in Ironbridge, Shropshire

Enginuity in Ironbridge, Shropshire

 

4. Why do museums matter to you?
Good question! Family friendly (and for that I mean all families and not the 2.5 person families politicians love to speak about) museums are vital for all societies. Ensuring our kids are not intimidated or scared to go to a museum when they are older (teens, 20s, 30s, etc) will help so much in ensuring their future. But for now – they’re so important because everyone should have access to the stories and collections. EVERYONE.

5. What’s the last museum you visited as a family and how was it?
Oh geez, now you’re asking! Can’t remember which one it was as we go to so many. I know it was one in London, does that count? Because Charlotte has been ‘brought up’ going to museums, it’s not like we hang out together at them. She’ll explore and I’ll explore, and we’ll reconnect at the end. But all visits are fun :)

6. What is your favourite museum to visit as a family?
Hard one – how to choose a favourite? Enginuity in Ironbridge Shropshire was always a fun one to go to. It’s another local and we always have a family pass. When Charlotte was younger we would pile in 3-4 kids and go for the afternoon.

Museum Marathon Berlin - asisi Panorama

Museum Marathon Berlin – asisi Panorama

 

7. Can you share a particularly memorable family museum experience?
Possibly the biggest memorable moment was on Museum Marathon in Berlin (thanks Jenni!). While we visited amazing museums (loved the Currywurst Museum, obviously) there were two moments that Charlotte and I will never forget: Firstly, talking to two of the German marathon participants on the division of East and West Berlin and what it meant to them personally. This discussion was at the asisi 360 Panorama of Berlin. And secondly, seeing the Neo-Nazi protesters fill the streets in what looked like something incredibly scary, but having the marathon group use it as educational in explaining the situation. Charlotte and I still mention that moment as we should have been scared but felt completely at ease in the Museum of Letters.

8. If your family could create a museum, what would it be about?
I’d have to go with puppets as we have a museum of puppets…

9. If you could spend a night in a museum, which one would you choose and why?
The Natural History Museum in London – and TICK, we did it for Charlotte’s birthday! Probably should have been for my birthday, as I was the most excited one there ;-)

Museum Marathon Berlin - Protest

Museum Marathon Berlin – Protest

 

10. And finally, do you have any great tips for visiting museums with children?
I have a list of tips but really, whatever makes you and them happy.
Go in with NO agenda. Just let what happens happen.
Don’t try to read or learn everything. I go into a room, scan it and if ONE item jumps out at me I go to it. If not, I head to the next room.
If you must, learn just one thing and that one thing could be who has the best cake or cleanest toilets.
If using gallery guides – always choose the family friendly guide. They are SO much more entertaining and have the really fun facts.
Playing Eye-spy is totally acceptable.


Thank you so much to Mar for taking the time to answer my questions! Walking the Museum Marathon around Berlin with Mar, Charlotte and many others is also one of my museum highlights! You can find Mar over on Twitter, where she is involved in lots of different museum projects, as well as on her blog.

If YOU are a museum loving family and would like to take part in the ‘Meet a Museum Family’ interview series, just get in touch! And for other tips about taking children to museums, and recommended museums to visit, check out the ‘Kids in Museums‘ section of my blog. Thanks for reading!


All photographs in this post courtesy of Mar Dixon.

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    […] that the first three interviews, with Melanie from Copenhagen, with Amanda from Australia, and with Mar from England, got such a great reception! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series just as much. This […]

  2. Meet a Museum Family #5 | Museum Diary - July 2, 2015

    […] has been getting. So far, we’ve heard from Melanie in Copenhagen, Amanda in Australia,  Mar in England, and Ania in Copenhagen. This week, we travel back to England to talk to […]

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