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.
Image from Manchester Evening News.
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.
Girl Museum Inc.