Babies in Museums – Stadtmuseum Berlin Pilot Project ‘Elternzeit Kultur’

May 12, 2016

News

BERLIN NEWSFLASH: Once a month, from 31st May, visitors with babies aged up to 18 months will have the chance to explore the exhibition ‘Berlin – Stadt der Frauen’ (Berlin – City of Women) at the Ephraim Palais free of charge! Read on for the details!

Babies in Museums

A couple of years ago, there was a seminar in the UK about ‘Babies in Museums’. Lots of great examples were being shared around, of museums working with the 0+ age group and making museums more accessible to families with very young children. I asked around in Germany’s museum circles for similar examples, but did not get very far. A few museums were offering ‘art with baby’ tours, which are essentially guided tours aimed at parents, who can bring their babies along without feeling worried they will disrupt anyone. Even though it’s baby friendly, the tours are aimed at the adults, not the children.

Since launching my ‘Berlin Museums for Kids‘ project last November, for which I put together a monthly listing of family highlights in Berlin’s museums, I have become even more aware of how little there is for the under 5s, and even less for the under 3s. I started wondering whether there was nothing on offer because people with babies and toddlers didn’t come, or whether they didn’t come because there was nothing on offer. Being an audience researcher by trade, I asked around and quickly discovered, that the biggest barrier seems to be admission prices. Something which I can relate to myself – I’m happy to pay full admission price to a museum if I know I can spend a good amount of time looking around, but I’ll think twice if there’s a chance #MuseumBaby might have a meltdown and I have to leave after 10 or 20 minutes. Especially if it’s a museum I’ve never been to before, where I don’t know what to expect. So parents weren’t even visiting museums with their babies in the first place, never mind putting any events on for them.

When I chat to my friends and colleagues back in the UK about my frustrations of visiting museums with young kids in Berlin, they keep telling me, “Then do something about it!’ And so I finally did. I came up with an idea for breaking down some of those barriers: offer a morning of free admission once a month for parents with babies, give them a chance to get to know the museum, then they may be more inclined to come back at a later point for a regular visit. I approached the Stadtmuseum Berlin with my idea – since they already offer free entry once a month to their museums, I thought they may be open to running a pilot project. I probably don’t have to tell you how delighted I was, that they rose to the challenge. Not only that, they did one better – instead of just a morning, they will be offer a whole day of free entry once a month, throughout the pilot project!

#stadtderfrauen © Stadtmuseum Berlin

#stadtderfrauen © Stadtmuseum Berlin


“Once a month, from 31st May, visitors with babies can explore the special exhibition ‘Berlin – Stadt der Frauen’ (Berlin – City of Women) at the Ephraim Palais free of charge. The aim of this initiative is to make seeking out a museum easier for young parents, as the threshold for visiting an exhibition with an infant is quite high. The Stadtmuseum Berlin acknowledges this, and warmly welcomes even very young visitors.” (translation from the Stadtmuseum Berlin press release)

I would like to thank the Stadtmuseum Berlin for taking up the gauntlet and being a bit of a trailblazer! I hope other museums will follow suit. And I hope that if you live in Berlin or are visiting Berlin with a baby, you will make use of the offer, to show that there is a need for initiatives like this and to make it all worthwhile! Here’s what else you need to know:

When? Last Tuesday of the month (31st May, 28th June, 26th July, 23rd August) from 10am to 6pm
Where? The exhibition ‘Berlin – Stadt der Frauen‘ at the Ephraim Palais in Nikolaiviertel
Who? Parents (and grandparents!) with babies aged up to 18 months. Up to two adults per family.
What? Free entry to the exhibition, a room set aside for nursing and feeding children, and a ‘Live Speaker’ on hand from 10am – 1pm, to answer any questions about the exhibition.

Can I bring a pram or stroller? Due to limited space, families are encouraged to bring a baby carrier that can be worn on the front. There will be a free guarded ‘parking’ area on the ground floor, where you can securely leave your pram or stroller.

Can I bring a baby carrier that’s worn on the back? Unfortunately, just as the general rule which forbids wearing backpacks in the exhibitions to keep the exhibits safe and prevent any accidents, baby carriers worn on the back are also not permitted.

Is there a lift if I can’t manage the stairs? Yes, there is a lift that can take you to the upper levels. However, please be advised that since it is not a public lift, it must be operated by a member of staff. Please don’t grumble about this. Just be happy there is a lift. If you know Berlin, you will know that this is not always a given!

Can I nurse my baby in the exhibition? Whilst breastfeeding is not prohibited in the exhibition, there are few seating opportunities, so an extra room will be set aside for nursing, for drinking and eating any snacks you bring along (there is no cafe at the Ephraim Palais), or for just taking some time out if necessary.

Why does the free entry only apply to babies up until 18 months? The cut off age was chosen, because most babies have learnt to walk by 18 months at which point – speaking from experience – they want to move around more freely, which brings another whole set of challenges with it. Also, many Kindergartens in Berlin don’t accept children under 18 months, so we had those parents in mind as well. And hey, think of it this way, many initiatives aimed at parents with babies only apply in the first 12 months, so you’re getting a whole extra 6 months for free!

How will the age be checked? Do I need to bring along my baby’s birth certificate or passport? Families with babies will be admitted on a basis of trust. If your child is confidently running around or chatting away in full sentences, chances are it’s older than 18 months (though there are of course exceptions, since all children develop at a different pace). Basically, visitors are trusted not to abuse the offer!

What if I have another child over the age of 18 months with me? Children under the age of 18 years always have free entry at all of Stadtmuseum Berlin’s sites anyway. As long as you have a baby with you too that meets the criteria, the offer for free admission still applies.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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