A common theme of many museum professional gatherings is the telling of war stories, many of which involve unique guest interactions. More often than not, the stories involve some sort of bizarre behavior or outrageous act that may seem innocuous to an outsider but sends chills down our collective spine. Such acts have been detailed in a variety of media (including this familiar and frustrating stunt) but there is one that is collecting a particular amount of attention this week.
A couple visiting the Tate in London was photographed standing by while their child climbed on a multi-million dollar installation. (Read the story on Hyperallergic.com here) As museum professionals, we have all seen this type of behavior. Suggestions on how to deal with these occurrences has ranged from the benign (ask security to intervene) to the outlandish (like this) or excessive (slash their tires). Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this? Is there a way this type of behavior can be curbed during the guests’ initial interactions at the admissions desk?
Furthermore, there is the issue of the mother’s comment to the photographer that she, to paraphrase, “obviously doesn’t know children.” How can we, as museum professionals, help parents prepare their children for a museum experience? What’s the role of children’s museums and art galleries in bridging the transition from hands-on fun to hands-off observing?
As always, we would love to hear your ideas on this topic. Feel free to comment below or drop us a line at phillyemp[at]gmail[dot]com.