In a modern world filled with seemingly unlimited technology, available to all of us; is there really a place for kids activities based solely on pritt stick, scissors, colouring in and a splash of creativity? In the current climate of budget cuts and increased competition for the attention of our younger audiences, is there really any hope for local authority museums with little to no budget and an expectant audience.
Once again my bank holiday weekend was spent in one such museum in Ilkeston. As is the norm, money is sparse. However imagination and enthusiasm are in abundance. The craft room is full of kids from 2 to 82 engaging in activities such as creating Easter baskets, masks and more. Visitor numbers climb dramatically during this period and ‘the Hayloft’ has gained quite the reputation amongst the kids in town
This is far from an isolated occurrence and all over the country museum staff are proving that in a world of I Pads and X Boxes there is still a place for the simple pleasures of craft activities.
A few months ago the Culture Syndicate undertook a project at the awards winning Nottingham Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall. Charged with increasing visitor flow in an underperforming gallery, we trialled kids’ activities using the themes present in the gallery. Not only did dwell time increase but numbers (especially young families) increased exponentially.
The budget for the activities was less than £10. As the activities grow so too will expense, but sites tend to notice an increase in donations from families feeling the museum has attempted to engage not only the adults but also their children.
In our recession affected times museums offering free or affordable activities are not only increasing attendance figures necessary for short term survival, but are highlighting the fun, intrigue and provenance of museums to the next generation, and that surely is vital to the long term stability of our museums.