Monday, August 28, 2006

Observations at exhibition

In the past several weeks, I've gone to four+ museums, and I have some random observations.

I don't like being in crowds. I especially don't like being in crowds when people are running into my shins with their SUV style baby carriages or strollers. Seriously, folks, that stroller takes up the space of two or three adults, easily. If you must bring it, don't run it against people, and don't place it parallel to the display so no one else can get close.

This will make me unpopular in some circles, but children don't belong everywhere. There, I've said it. If it's going to take two or more hours to get through a non-child-friendly exhibit, and your kid spends most of that crying in the stroller, you might want to think about moving out of the traffic pattern a bit, picking the kid up, and comforting him/her in some way. Maybe get a babysitter and leave the kid at home? (No, this isn't a poverty thing; the tickets to one exhibit were $20+ dollars; if you couldn't afford a babysitter, you probably weren't spending $20+ for the tickets, plus parking, transport, etc.)

That said, the children's interactive parts of some museums are really appealing. But I hate when parts don't work! (Because, yes, I tend to try them!)

I like good descriptive exhibits. I like to know which way's north on maps and landscapes that represent the area. I like to know how bits of machinery fit with the larger picture, and so forth. I saw some displays at a cheesy local little town museum that oriented me really well to how the stuff worked in the old Northwoods; as a result, I learned something about local lumbering practices. I saw displays at a national travelling exhibit that didn't do nearly as well; as a result, I didn't learn as much as I might have.

I love museums that prompt visitors to think about the museum's own constructions of narrative and display. It seems that more and more museums are helping visitors become better museum "readers."

I'm alternately fascinated and irritated at the ways some displays assume gender and race.

Best of all, I got an Einstein action figure!

I wonder if they make a Shakespeare action figure? Or character ones? A Hamlet (in)action figure? If you had one for Titus, you could have a removeable hand and such!


  1. There's definitely a Shakespeare action figure (made by at least one of the companies that makes an Einstein action figure). There's also a Shax bobble-head doll--I got one for my BF for his birthday.

    I love the idea for a Titus action figure, although I suspect that the market for that one would be a little small...

  2. I, too, have seen a Shakespeare action figure...

  3. re: children don't belong in certain places. Totally agree. I have children and nothing drives me more crazy than when people bring children to non-age appropriate activities. I was somewhere recently where there was a screaming baby where there shouldn't have been--nice restaurant or something, can't remember and it just ruined my experience. I'm one of those parents who whisked their crying children away so a) not to disturb others and b) because they're obviously unhappy where they are.


    Shakespeare Action Figure.

  5. I have philosopher finger puppets that are also refrigerator magnets.. so there must be Shakespeare versions :).

    I agree that kids don't belong everywhere. I don't see how bringing them someplace that is not aimed at their level will increase their cultural awareness. If the kid doesn't understand, then they will have a crappy time and learn quickly to hate such places. Wait until they are older and understand... and, by no means does a stroller give you right of way or any sort of permission to smash it into me.

  6. I got the Shakespeare action figure for a friend of mine. And someone else gave me a Bach action figure, which I keep on my piano. It's a bit more fun than having an ivory bust of his head would be.

  7. Einstein action figure...too cool. I found a Shakespeare "comic book" (Scholastic) that I got for Husband (a devoted Shakespeare fan), but the kids claimed it.

    And I agree completely -- there are places where (most) young children should not be allowed.

  8. My summer spent doing nothing but online shopping pays off!

    Shakespeare action figure (

    Shakespeare bobble head (

    And, finally, The Poor Yorick catalog, for all your bardic needs (

    But your idea for a removable-hand Titus figure is brilliant, and I want one, badly.

  9. Anonymous4:14 PM

    The Dali museum in Figueres is very accommodating to children. (A sure tipoff that they understand he was an entertainer most of all.) They make parents check their strollers, and give them Baby-Bjorn-type carriers, so the kids dangle on their parents' chests, looking out. Our one-year-old loved it.

    That said, of course you're right that lots of museums and other places are out of bounds....

    Vance Maverick