Kids in Museums: At the Tower of London

For a long time now, I’ve been volunteering with Kids in Museums, a charity who have set out to make museums and galleries more aware of issues affecting family visitors as well as encouraging dialogues between museums and family visitors. Those museums who are actively subscribe to the ethos of being open and welcoming to families  have signed up in support of our Manifesto. Every cause needs a manifesto.

Kids in Museums do a number of high profile things to help things along, such as organising the Family Friendly Museum Award and Take Over Day as well as running workshops aimed at Museum Professionals to encourage Family Friendliness.

Last night, the lovely people at Historic Royal Palaces threw us a big bash in the moat of the Tower of London.

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Tower of London #nofilter

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No mere marquee for the Kids in Museums crowd though, this was a garden moat party with a little more pizzazz than you’re average shin-dig. We were housed in this very geometric igloo, surrounded by striped tents. It was like a Time Machine had landed at a Renaissance Fair and it was excellent.

Tents and an Igloo at the Tower Moat
Tents and an Igloo at the Tower Moat

After we had set things up and were all prepared for the guests to arrive, Kids in Museums’ fearless BAFTA award-winning leader Dea Birkett gave a little speech. It was a lovely moment.

Kids in Museums' fearless leader, Dea Birkett
Kids in Museums’ fearless leader, Dea Birkett

It wasn’t long before the crowds arrived, and the space was filled to the brim.

The party in full swing
The party in full swing

I’m going to apologise now for the blurry pictures that follow. I’m not the steadiest of hands when it comes to taking pictures, especially if there’s a zoom element involved (or low lighting…).

Philip Mould, chair of Trustees, antiques expert and self-described “Second hand picture salesman” was the first of our speakers for the evening. He spoke of all the good work that Dea and the team do, and revealed his own ‘Museum Moment’ – that magical instant when you really feel the power of museums – it was when his father had told him just how much a painting was worth. *Chuckles all around*

Philip Mould, Kids in Museum's Chair of Trustees
Philip Mould, Kids in Museum’s Chair of Trustees

After Philip, legendary news anchor Sir Trevor McDonald spoke to the masses. Growing up listening to his dulcet tones report on current affairs, I expected his words to be preceded by a BONG, just like on the News at 10. Alas, there was no bonging of any bells but Sir Trevor gave a wonderful speech on how museums and heritage sites breath life into our history.

Sir Trevor McDonald
Sir Trevor McDonald

Finally, we had televisual historian Bettany Hughes speak. I love Bettany, after studying Classics I always get a little bit star-struck whenever I meet her, which, looking back, has been fairly often as she does a lot of work with Kids in Museums.

Historian Bettany Hughes
Historian Bettany Hughes

She recalled her time waiting in the queue for the British Museum’s epic Tutankhamun exhibition from 1972. Perhaps you can see a young Bettany in this picture?

The trip was one of the few museum outings Bettany had as a child, because the queues and all the other stresses that came with that trip were just a bit too much for her parents. Not being regular museum visitors, this trip set what their idea of what a normal museum visit would be like.

Bettany seemed to enjoy it though, and said that the queues were worth the agony. She even wrote about her museum adventure in her first book. I particular enjoy her spelling of museum.

Naturally, being a massive fan I took a selfie with her.

The Museum Adventurer with Bettany Hughes
The Museum Adventurer with Bettany Hughes

My Kids in Museum colleague Caroline even had a picture with a Yeoman Guard, which made her evening!

Kids in Museums volunteer Caroline with a Beefeater
Kids in Museums volunteer Caroline with a Beefeater

But what was this swanky soiree for? Well, there were two reasons. The first is that due to the success of Take Over Day in museums, Kids in Museums is piloting an expanded version of the project across the arts.

With  Takeover Day expanding Across the Arts, the success of the Kids in Museums model of working – giving young and family visitors a powerful voice – will go to the next stage. It’s called Kids in….. (fill in the dots with the art and heritage of your choice) Kids in ….. will be an organisation empowering and including young people and families across the arts.

This brings me on nicely to why we were at the Tower.

Kids in Museums is pleased to announce Historic Royal Palaces have committed to Kids in Palaces for 2015! Looks like Prince George won’t be the only Kid in the Palace for much longer.

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge at night
The Tower of London and Tower Bridge at night

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for this. Good to find out why it was all happening at the Tower, having seen a flurry of tweets.

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