{Germany} Babies in Museums at the Ephraim Palais

June 6, 2016

Kids in Museums, Germany

100 Museums Challenge: Museum No.70

Ephraim Palais Berlin

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

You may recall, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the pilot project Elternzeit Kultur at the Ephraim Palais, which the Stadtmuseum Berlin and I had initiated together. With the aim to break down some barriers between parents and carers of young children and the museum, to give them a chance to get to know the museum, and to feel explicitly welcome, visitors with babies up to age 18 months are invited to visit the current special exhibition ‘Stadt der Frauen’ for free once a month, until the end of August when the exhibition and the pilot project comes to an end. Last week, on the last Tuesday in May, was the first ‘Elternzeit Kultur’ date, and #MuseumBaby (who *just* scraped in to the 18 month age limit) and I went to check it out.

Babies in Museums EP 01

We were warmly welcomed at the entrance, where all staff were easily identifiable by their red ‘Elternzeit Kultur badges’. You could tell the museum had really put its heart in to this pilot project. Although visitors with babies had been encouraged, where possible, to bring a baby carrier as space for prams was limited, since we were so early and it was not busy, we were told we could take the pram inside. But I decided to switch to the carrier anyway, as I thought there may be others coming after us more in need of taking in their pram, e.g. with sleeping babies or babies too small for carriers. So we were shown to the pram parking area, where #MuseumBaby watched with interest/ suspicion as I strapped myself in.

Elternzeit Kultur

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

And then we headed up the stairs to the exhibition. ‘Stadt der Frauen’ (Engl: City of Women) presents the life stories of 20 women – 5 each from the areas of politics, business, art and innovation – showing how “they cast off the corset of societal constraints, what they experienced and how they helped to shape [Berlin’s] history”.  The exhibition includes over 400 objects, artworks, and items of personal memorabilia, augmented by media stations, multilingual texts and audio guides (though I didn’t use the audio guide on this occasion). #MuseumBaby was particularly fascinated by an animated portrait, which started to talk to us as we walked up to it. Very Harry Potter! Though he is still too young to know appreciate the reference.

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There was also a roving ‘live speaker’ on hand during the first half of the day, who was there to tell visitors a little more about the exhibition and to answer any questions, as and when needed. Kind of in lieu of a full guided tour. I thought this was a great idea, since a full guided tour is most often too long when I’m out and about with #MuseumBaby as he’ll get bored about half way through and cause a ruckus. So I was able to find out a little more about Emilie Winkelmann (1875 – 1951), Germany’s first female architect, before #MuseumBaby let me know that it was time to move on.

Elternzeit Kultur

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

Caught in the Act

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

Another of the media stations, that #MuseumBaby really enjoyed, was a mirror with a projection of two people, who started talking when you pressed the button. We had some silly fun taking selfies in the mirror (something I don’t really do unless I’m out with the kids, since it amuses them to no end). Above you can see us caught in the act by Martin Schäfer, from the Stadtmuseum, and below is one of the selfies we took.

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I had another little wander around the exhibition, reading more about some of the women, such as zoologist and former director of the Berlin Zoo, Katharina Heinroth, and Louise Schroeder, Berlin’s first and to date only Lord Mayor (see above). But #MuseumBaby soon became restless, strapped in to the carrier, and also a bit hot and bothered, since it was a sweltering summer day. Eventually I had to take him out, as he wanted to walk about and explore things. It’s not an exhibition geared at children, but he was enamoured with picking up and listening to all the audio stations. Some of the staff looked a little more nervous than others at this toddler, striding purposefully around the exhibition, but to their credit, they were all perfectly polite and never gave me the feeling that we were unwelcome in any way. I’d particularly like to thank the lady with the blue (I think it was) streaked hair, who made such an effort to cheer up #MuseumBaby when he was all hot and bothered, and even reappeared with a paper fan and started fanning him to cool him down!

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On a side note, there were some people questioning in advance of the event, why there is a 18 month age limit to free entry. In the FAQs on my previous post, I had explained that the cut off age was chosen, because most babies have learnt to walk by 18 months at which point they want to move around more freely, which brings another whole set of challenges with it. #MuseumBaby, who had just turned 18 months the week before, was a perfect example of this. Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to develop other initiatives in Berlin’s museums for the +18 month age group.

Elternzeit Kultur

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

Oh yeah, and we had to go back to the mirror, as there was a button to be pressed! Lol.

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Finally, about 90 minutes after we first arrived, my date was sending all the signals that it was time to go. Mr Independent insisted on walking down all three flights of stairs by himself, so it took us a while to get down, but it gave me plenty of time to admire the beautiful stairwell and portrait at the bottom.

Elternzeit Kultur

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

Around 20 other mums with babes had arrived since us, and the pram parking area was filling up! Before heading home, we had a little rest and a snack in the education room, which had been set aside for that purpose and for anyone needing to change their babies or wanting a little privacy to nurse.

Elternzeit Kultur

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

The Stadtmuseum later shared some comments from the Ephraim Palais’ guest books, saying what a lovely initiative for parents this had been, and great opportunity for mums and kids. And thank you.

guest book

© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Martin Schäfer

And a big thank you from me too. Thank you to the Stadtmuseum Berlin for having faith in my idea and taking the leap! Thank you to all the parents that came along with their babies! I’m told there were almost 50 in total over the course of the day! All the feedback received on the day, was similarly positive to the guest book entries above, and we look forward to the remaining three ‘Elternzeit Kultur’ dates (28th June, 26th July, 23rd August) and hope they will be as well received. Did you visit the Ephraim Palais with your baby last week? Or do you plan to go in one of the coming months? If so, I would love to hear from you and invite you to leave a comment on this post!

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5 Responses to “{Germany} Babies in Museums at the Ephraim Palais”

  1. the Pigeon Pair and Me Says:

    What a fantastic initiative! Well done you on pushing it forward. Did you know there’s something similar at the Munch Museum in Oslo – the Scream? Parents and carers on maternity leave have free entry, and a series of talks.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Berlin Museums for Kids: What’s On in July? | Museum Diary - July 9, 2016

    […] “Elternzeit Kultur” at Stadtmuseum Berlin’s Ephraim Palais When: Tuesday 26th July, 10am – 6pm Where: Poststraße 16, 10178 Berlin (Nikolaiviertel) What: Free entry to the Ephraim Palais, to view the exhibition ‘Stadt der Frauen’, get to know the museum better, and break down some barriers between parents of young children and the sometimes daunting prospect of visiting museums. Price: Free to visitors with babies up to 18 months! >> read my previous blog post for further details and FAQs >> read my review of our visit to Elternzeit Kultur in May for an impression of the event […]

  2. Berlin Museums for Kids: What’s on in August? | Museum Diary - July 29, 2016

    […] “Elternzeit Kultur” at Stadtmuseum Berlin’s Ephraim Palais When: Tuesday 23rd August, 10am – 6pm Where: Poststraße 16, 10178 Berlin (Nikolaiviertel) What: Free entry to the Ephraim Palais, to view the exhibition ‘Stadt der Frauen’, get to know the museum better, and break down some barriers between parents of young children and the sometimes daunting prospect of visiting museums. Price: Free to visitors with babies up to 18 months! >> read my previous blog post for further details and FAQs >> read my review of our visit to Elternzeit Kultur in May for an impression of the event […]

  3. Museum Diary - August 16, 2016

    […] to things. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may remember my post about the ‘babies in museums’ initiative I initiated at the Stadtmuseum Berlin and worked on with them together. I followed up my post with […]

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    […] museum project to date in the past five years (no offence to any of the other museums), the ‘Elternzeit Kultur‘ days at the Ephraim-Palais, for parents with young […]

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