The Dutch have a great system where you can buy an annual subscription, and then visit pretty much all the museums in the country for free. This is a museum card, and it is personalised, so has your name and the adult cards have your photo on too. Children’s fees to visit museums are variable, depending on the age the museum is aimed at. Many of them are free under 16 or 18, though some charge from as young as 2 (for example the Nijntje, or Miffy, museum). So, when buying a museum card for children it is a question of working out how likely you are to go to multiple museums in a year that charge for their age and how that compares to the cost of a child’s museum card. For us, as we go frequently to the Spoorwegmuseum, or Railway Museum, it made sense for us to purchase both children a card once they turned four.
This makes an easy great day out, and as you haven’t actually paid to get in you don’t feel so bad if you don’t manage to see absolutely everything that there is to see each time. In fact, if you only stay for half an hour because the kids are being a nightmare then it’s not a problem. And you can go back another time and visit your favourite bits easily. It’s especially handy in Amsterdam, as it also means that you skip the queues to purchase tickets. Though you may still need to queue to enter, and for certain places with timed entries (the Anne Frank House for example) you still need to get a ticket.
Fortunately both the children enjoy visiting museums, partly because most of them have good activities for different age groups, and partly because they are copying Peppa Pig. We have a couple of Peppa DVDs, one of which includes an episode where they go to a museum and have lots of fun. So the idea of museums has been introduced to them as a fun thing to do. Though we haven’t yet managed to find a museum that has both dinosaur skeletons and royal robes, like the one Peppa and George go to see.
Along with the museum cards there is an allied organisation aimed at children called museum kids. This includes an inspector function, which allows children to rate their visit to different museums, and to answer questions about their visit. These reviews can then be voted up or down a ranking, and I think win prizes. While we haven’t really engaged with the reviewing side of it (the one time we did do it rocket boy’s main comment was that the museum needed more robots!) it does allow you to see which museums are the best for children. It also shows a willingness across all museums to encourage younger visitors and to provide them with suitable things to do too to engage them in the collections.
When we first moved here we visited a number of different museums, but have slowed down recently, so we should make an effort again to visit new ones. That’s a good summer holiday project – to visit some new museums!