Here is some information taken from the Association of Children’s Museums, based in the USA… this explains how they differ to normal museums and galleries, and hopefully it will be clear why it would be so beneficial to build one here in Perth!
According to 2015 data, more than 30 million children and families annually visited children’s museums.
Children’s museums are places where children learn through play and exploration in environments designed just for them. Reflecting their diverse communities, children’s museums create playful, interactive learning experiences.
Many children’s museums are located in major travel and tourism destinations. More and more families visit children’s museums each year for unique, face-to-face fun, enlightenment and shared experiences not found in traditional museums or other popular destinations.
Peek inside a children’s museum and you’ll see babies and toddlers touching a variety of textures, stacking blocks, crawling through a tunnel or blowing bubbles. Take another look inside a children’s museum to see boys and girls enter a 19th century ship where they hoist a net full of fish, take part in a fishing derby, raise and lower sails and semaphore flags, all the while building an understanding of maritime history. At a children’s museum the general rule is: Please Touch!
Children’s museums produce programs and exhibits that transcend age and experience, and empower children to set their own pace.
Children’s museums offer a variety of activities, some as simple as reading a book or pretending to shop at farmer’s market. Other hands-on experiences may invite a family to learn about a foreign culture by trying on clothes and costumes native to a people or country, engaging in an “authentic” festival or creating traditional folk art. Children’s museums offer opportunities for family learning as well for time to bond with family members.
Due to the interactive nature of children’s museums, most families can participate in exhibits regardless of their language fluency. Many museums provide signage and literature in more than one language. Kids will be delighted to find furniture, props and materials scaled to their size. Additionally, many children’s museums create opportunities within exhibits for children and family members who use wheelchairs, or who rely heavily on their sense of sound or touch because of differing abilities.
18 children’s museums are green buildings; 24 museums are in the process of building a green facility. Therefore, 12% of ACM member institutions have committed themselves to be green children’s museums. In 1975 there were approximately 38 children’s museums in the United States. 80 new children’s museums opened between 1976 and 1990. Since 1990, an additional 125 have opened. There are about 70 children’s museums in the planning phase.
81% of ACM museums have a dedicated early childhood exhibit space specifically designed for infants and toddlers.
35% of ACM museums have an outdoor exhibit and/or garden.
49% run after school programs.
60% develop curriculum materials.
70% provide school outreach.
The oldest children’s museum is the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (New York), which opened in 1899. The second oldest (pictured) is in Indianapolis, was built in 1923 and is currently the largest in the world – spanning an area of almost half a million sq. ft.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!