{Kids in Museums} Sailing on the South Seas

December 28, 2015

Kids in Museums, Germany


I’m taking a bit of a breather from the blog over the holiday period, but I wanted to pop in and share a wee anecdote with you. We thought it would be nice to have a little museum outing on Boxing Day, and decided to take a trip out to the Dahlem Museums to see the Christmas exhibits at the Museum of European Cultures. Their collection of nativity scenes from around the world, the mechanical Christmas Mountain (both referenced in a previous blog post), and their temporary exhibition on Advent calendars seemed perfect for a visit during Christmas time. So we went, we saw, we had lunch…and then #MuseumBoy wanted to see “the rest of the museum”. With three museums in one building, this was an impossible task to accomplish in what remained of the afternoon, so I thought what would he enjoy most, and we ended up in the South Seas gallery.


With its spectacular, true-to-scale exhibit of traditional South Seas boats, this gallery is one of the highlights of the museum. And, what I didn’t know when I suggested it, one of the boats is a replica which you are allowed to go on. After listening to a long list of ‘dos and don’ts’, #MuseumBoy was finally allowed to scramble on, and went straight in to full power imaginative play mode – just the way things should be in a museum – pretending to steer the oars of the boat through the choppy South Seas. “Have you taken a photo?” the museum guard urges me. “Yes, yes, thanks, I’m doing it right now”, I answer, holding up my phone as proof.


Then #MuseumBoy crawls inside the boat and pretends to call his dad, who is standing a couple of feet away next to the boat. Dad plays along, in turn taking out his (switched off!) phone, and so the pretend phone conversation continues. It’s a very detailed conversation – #MuseumBoy tells him all about his adventures on the South Seas, what the weather is like, where they have sailed to, and much more. Then the museum guard, who had been so keen for me to take a photo, steps in.

Guard: Phone calls are not allowed!
Dad: I’m not making a call, I’m talking to me son.
Guard: You need to take the call outside!!
Dad: It’s not a real call, I’m talking to my son. Over there! On the boat!
Guard: Phone calls are prohibited in the museum!

At this point I step in, since all this has been taking place in German, and whilst my husband can hold his own quite well, I thought maybe there was some kind of language barrier causing the guard to misunderstand.

Me: He’s not actually making a real phone call. Our son – the boy on the boat up there I just took a photo of – pretended to call him, so he is just playing along. He is just going along with it and pretending too. His phone is switched off.
Guard: Phones are still not allowed in the museum, regardless.
Me: …


And that’s the end of our little anecdote. From this we have learned: Using your switched on phone to take a photo of your kid is okay. Using your switched off phone to make a pretend phone call to your kid is not okay. Because, no phone calls! Not even pretend ones!

I don’t like to write negatively about museums, I prefer to find something positive in every visit. Being able to climb aboard one of the boats at all and not just look at them from afar was something positive. But none the less I just had to share this little story with you. Maybe the guard was just having a bad day. Maybe he didn’t like being wrong. But if museums want to encourage imaginative play, they need to lighten up a little!

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2 Responses to “{Kids in Museums} Sailing on the South Seas”

  1. Amy B. Says:

    I suppose if you had taken out a banana to use as a phone the guard would have told you that no food is allowed in the exhibit hall? : )


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