The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Is Britain discouraging young people from experiencing culture?

13 year olds Ashleigh Robinson and Emily Downs were refused entry to Salford Museum and Art Gallery
because they were 'too young' to view exhibits on their own.

During their recent half-term school holiday, rather than going shopping or watching TV, 13-year-olds Emily Downs and Ashleigh Robinson decided to spend the day at the museum. Whilst many would consider this an admirable choice of leisure activity for two young people, the Salford Museum and Art Gallery in Manchester, UK clearly had issues with their visit. 

Rather than encouraging the girls in their endeavour, staff turned them away, on the grounds that they were ‘too young.’ The museum has a policy of not admitting children under 16 unaccompanied by an adult, for their own ‘safety,’ according to a Salford Council leisure executive. Ironically, their refused entry meant the girls had to wander unsupervised through an unfamiliar area, whilst they waited for Emily’s mother to collect them.

Child protection is obviously a serious issue, and it’s great that museums are taking it seriously. However, in this case, has the ‘nanny state’ gone too far? Whilst it’s perfectly sensible to question the advisability of a 6-year-old wandering a museum alone, surely teenagers like Emily and Ashleigh possess the judgement and intelligence to visit independently: banning them from doing so was not only patronising, but insulting. As Emily said, it made her feel ‘not trusted.’

A sign-in register of under 16s would be equally effective as a protective measure, and far less offensive to those concerned.

Ageism, in all its forms, is not something to be promoted. Museums are always saying that they want to attract younger visitors: perhaps they can, if young people are given a little more credit.  

-Chloe Grant
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

1 comment:

  1. This seems like a very odd decision given that museums all over the UK are on a drive to encourage young people, especially teenagers, to come in and engage with their exhibitions.

    I can't help but wonder if this rule has come about as a result of some bad behaviour by other kids in the past? Surely a discretionary policy would be better, though?