Children playing at Erewash Museum in Derbyshire, which is one of the nominees for a Family Friendly Museum Award this year

Museums are the most popular heritage attraction for families

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 28.08.2019
Survey finds that 90% of parents visit museums with their children
Parents are more likely to take their children to museums than any other heritage attraction, a survey has shown.

Commissioned by the heritage insurance group Ecclesiastical, the research found that 90% of the parents surveyed said they visited museums with their children. 

However, 39% of families reported having at least one negative experience during their museum visit, with a lack of outdoor space or play areas, lack of parking or lifts, and unfriendly staff or visitors cited as the main concerns. 

The survey found that 85% of parents with children visited castles, 77% went to the theatre and 69% visited stately homes. The least-visited heritage attractions were art galleries, which 35% of families said they never visit. 

Common barriers to visits by families include a lack of child-focused activities, cost, and a general perception that heritage organisations are not child friendly. 

Parents said that cheaper tickets or free children's entry, activities and pop-up events for children and hands-on activities or interactive displays would be the best incentives to encourage them to take their children to heritage organisations.

Several innovative museum initiatives were cited in the survey as examples of how to encourage more families to visit, including baby-friendly curator talks, signposted selfie points and "dadstastic days" at Leeds City Museum, and York Art Gallery’s displays that babies can touch and lick, low-level labels, comfortable chairs, and dedicated welcome team for families.

“It’s encouraging to read that up to 90% of parents are taking their children to museums, but some of the figures show as a sector we can go further," said Lizzie Glithero-West, the chief executive of the Heritage Alliance, a coalition of independent heritage organisations.

"As a parent myself of seven- and five-year-olds who has spent a lot of time in cultural sites with them, I know the impact that excellent, engaging activities and an authentic welcome can have on us wanting to return. Conversely, a lack of understanding of children’s needs, or poor welcome can certainly have the opposite effect. 

“So many heritage sites are offering innovative and exciting programmes and resources for families and this is clearly crucial in shaping our heritage-lovers of the future and ensuring the sustainability of these destinations.”

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