Children’s museums nowadays: can they compete with bigger realities? - TOMATO Project

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Children’s museums nowadays: can they compete with bigger realities?

In recent decades, children’s museums have found themselves competing with economically stronger and better-organized cultural entities. In hopes of increasing their visitor numbers, these larger institutions have opened their doors to children, creating competition for smaller places. Larger museums have started offering interactive exhibits and programs specifically designed for children, raising questions about the future of smaller children’s museums.

For example, how can children’s museums compete with bigger and better-equipped venues?

How can they promote their activities in smaller spaces?

Even the Tomato Project considers these aspects, hoping to find answers and help smaller museums carve out their own space.

However, the effects of this trend are evident in competitions dedicated to children’s museums. For instance, in the ‘Children’s Museum Award’, over the years, there has been a decrease in applications from specialized children’s museums in favour of those from museums catering to all audiences, with perhaps only a few areas dedicated to children’s knowledge and learning. The diversity among candidate museums, ranging from scientific to art museums, from natural history to music, has made it difficult for judges to evaluate competitors, especially considering differences in financial budgets and organization.

To address this issue, the jury has defined objective criteria to give small institutions, with limited resources, the chance to compete. Among these criteria are:
– Innovation
– Creating immersive learning environments
– Embracing the digital revolution
– Creatively using collections
– Addressing contemporary issues
– Strengthening social impact
– Promoting participation

Innovation, particularly, is crucial for children’s museums, along with creativity, action, and interaction. Moreover, given the increasing involvement of young people in social issues, initiatives promoting critical thinking and addressing contemporary issues are valued.
Therefore, specialized children’s museums can fight for survival within these competitions focusing on innovation. These guidelines emphasize the importance of addressing contemporary issues in museums, involving youth, and stimulating critical thinking. Furthermore, they highlight the significance of creating social impact and fostering active participation of children in museums.

To defend their unique position, children’s museums can also focus on:
– Quality, by expanding programs according to the age groups of potential visitors
– Strengthening relationships with schools
– Focusing on contemporary issues

In the coming years, children’s museums must recognize and uphold their potential amidst global and economic challenges to establish their significance and demonstrate their importance as fundamental elements in the cultural and museum scene of their countries. The issue lies in determining how to achieve this. Only through active communication among stakeholders at local, national, and international levels, this question can be effectively addressed.

One Comment

    June 4, 2024 REPLY

    As a leader in Childrens museum and as the Director of Education at Miami Children’s Museum where we house the only preschool and charter school pipeline within a museum I would love to connect with you and discuss this topic further

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