Meet a Museum Family #1

April 16, 2015

Kids in Museums, Denmark

I’m really excited to introduce a new series to you on the blog today! As you know, I’m a strong advocate for taking kids to museums, including, of course, my own two sons. I always love to hear from other families who feel the same, about their experiences, their favourite museums, and any tips they have to share. So I thought it would be a nice idea to start an interview series with other museum loving families, and to share their experiences and tips with my readers too! I am delighted that my friend Melanie from Copenhagen, who has guest posted on Museum Diary in the past, has agreed to go first. I hope you like the new series, and if you too are a family who loves visiting museums and would like to take part in an interview, just get in touch! Now, over to Melanie…

MAMF - Mel 04

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

My name is Melanie and I live in Copenhagen with my husband and five year old son. We are lucky to live in such a compact city with a wealth of museums. My son is a huge fan of museums and we can often be found in one of our favourites on a Saturday afternoon.

2. How old was your son when you started taking him to museums, and what was the first museum you remember taking him to?

I took my son to museums from a very early age as I enjoy them myself and I don’t think it is ever too early to expose children to them. Probably the first museum I took him to was the Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, but the first he really enjoyed was the Natural History Museum in Berlin when he was almost two.




3. Do you remember visiting museums when you were a child?

I loved visiting museums as a child. My grandad worked very close to the museums in Kensington in London and would often take me to the Natural History Museum or the Science Museum. One of my best memories was going with him to a hologram exhibition at the Science Museum in the early ‘80s when holograms were a new innovation. When I was 12 I went on a school trip to the Museum of Mankind and whilst everyone else was bored, I loved it and it started me on the route that led me to study Anthropology at University.

4. Why do you think it’s important to take children to museums?

I believe that it is important to take children to museums for a number of reasons. I think it exposes them to a wider variety of experiences and teaches them to question and be curious. We still laugh about things, especially modern art, we have seen that we didn’t understand but that got us talking about what is ‘art’ or what is important to think about. We have a catchphrase in our house — “don’t touch, it’s art,” after a museum guard told me off for touching something that begged to be touched. It also teaches children how to behave in different environments and to learn about other cultures as well as exploring their own. I hate it when I hear adults saying museums are boring — there is always something fascinating to be found in any museum and that is something to teach children. In the Glypyoteket my son enjoys spotting which Greek statues are missing heads, arms and willies but at the same time he is learning about an ancient culture. It frustrated me recently when a teacher at his school said the children (under 6) were too young to take to museums, to me it is how you present and handle the visit that makes it work for children of any age. A little bit of research online beforehand can really help.

Statens Museum for Kunst

Statens Museum for Kunst


5. What’s the last museum you visited as a family and how was it?

The last museum we visited was the Workers’ Museum in Copenhagen just a few weekends ago. It is a perennial favourite and we are friends of the museum so we get in for free. We have been there many times but my son still loves the children’s area where there is an old fashioned shop and pawnbrokers (amongst other things) to play in. It is great to have a season pass to museums as you can spent an hour or the whole day there without any pressure. I have lost count the number of times we have been the last people to leave our favourite museums at closing time.

6. What is your favourite museum to take your son to?

This is a tough one as there are so many in Copenhagen but we have a couple that are firm favourites – the Workers’ Museum (see above) and the National Museum of Denmark, which has a great children’s section with a medieval fortress, Viking ship and a medieval kitchen. This museum also has regular changing exhibitions which are always fascinating for us. Another is the Frilands Museum, which is a huge open air museum about half an hour outside the city, with over 50 farms, houses, smallholdings and mills from the period 1650-1940. You can go into the buildings and the museum workers are trained historians and horticulturalists who are happy to stop and chat with you.

Frilands Museum

Frilands Museum


7. Can you share a particularly memorable family museum experience?

For this question I asked my son and he immediately recalled a visit to the (you guessed it) Workers’ Museum one summer when they had a special exhibition about holidays. They had 1960s caravan in the yard outside and a little faux forest campsite inside with various types of tents to play in. It really captured his imagination and we went several times. He was fascinated to hear about the kinds of camping holidays my husband and I had been on as children as a result of the visits.

8. What is the most unusual museum you’ve ever visited as a family?

I think this would be the Medical Museion in Copenhagen. We had talked about visiting for a while but I wasn’t sure my son would enjoy it but I was wrong. He was fascinated by the organs in jars and the small temporary exhibition about body odour, where you could sniff bits of fabric with different people’s sweat on them. It was rather disgusting to me but he loved it.

9. What is the best museum cafe you’ve ever been to with your family and what did you have?

We are very spoilt in Copenhagen when it comes to museum cafes. I would say in the main, museums generally offer great quality, healthy food at reasonable prices but one of my favourites is the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Art Gallery). It has a small menu but everything is delicious and beautifully presented and the buffet is great value for children and not a chicken nugget in sight. The other is the restaurant at Louisiana. We love this museum but if I am honest the highlight for me is their gastronomic feast of a buffet at a very reasonable price. The smoked scallops and roast chicken pieces plus the freshly baked breads are to die for and my son agrees!




10. And, finally, what advice do you have for other families on how to make museum visits more successful?

My biggest tip is to adjust your own expectations of a museum visit. You can expect to spend a lot of time in one section that may really capture your child’s imagination and it is important to run with that rather than trying to race your child through the whole museum in one go. Some children can spend hours in a museum and other enjoy a bite sized visit. Don’t build one part up massively with your children but go with the flow. It is also good to challenge your children with the kind of museum you visit and not just stick to ones you think are for children. Relax and enjoy the museum through their eyes. A great tip is to get season passes for museums in your home city as not only does it save money but it means you can be relaxed about seeing small parts of the bigger museum each time.

Thank you so much to Melanie for taking the time to answer my questions! I have had the pleasure of being shown around the Worker’s Museum in Copenhagen by her son – a little museum guide in the making :) You can also find Melanie over on her blog Dejlige Days, where she periodically  posts about other museums in Copenhagen.

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 Melanie Haynes. 


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