Well, How Very Dare They?!

Dea Birkett – no stranger to entitlement and histrionic accounts, we all remember – returns to
CiF to rage about a story of unaccompanied 13 year olds being refused admission to a museum:

Many museums ban mobile phones at the door – sometimes the same museums that thrust gadgetry upon their school and youth-group visitors. On a recent visit to Tate Modern, even middle-aged me was told off by a gallery assistant for answering my mobile and asked to switch it off. Yet that same museum runs pioneering programmes with young people, involving some of the most hi-tech digital gadgetry available.

Yes, well, one of these things is not like the other, is it, Dea?

And people go to art galleries to contemplate the art, not to listen to some woman yakking on her mobile. Middle-aged or not, it makes no difference. That’s why they have the rule and, yes, it applies to you too.

And on the subject of the unaccompanied minors, well, it’s not simply a case of snobbish museums, is it? As one of the commenters points out:


“It’s sad that these two girls were not allowed to visit the museum, but one can understand the concerns of the museum. Sadly, too many teenagers nowadays are not brought up or educated properly, and left to their own devices would annoy other visitors and make a nuisance of themselves. Ironically, this may not have been the case for these two little girls, but they have been unfairly punished for the yobbery of their peers.”

this has FA to do with behaviour, education or annoyance of children.

it has everything to do with the legal side.

the law is such that if they don’t have a parent or guardian with them, the museum is legally responsible for them. if they were to trip over, or put their hand through a glass case, or if the ‘daily mail bogeyman pedo’ touches them then it’ll be the museum paying the compo.

and this isn’t just museums – there is practically no chance if you’re a child of getting into other places (swimming pools come to mind) on your own.

that the parents went straight to the press with this story rather than just making a quiet compaint to the museum shows the money-grabbing fear-driven nature of today’s society.

the irony that it is the fear-mongering of the tabloids that has created the conditions such that their children can’t go anywhere unaccompanied must be lost on them. i hope they’re enjoying the 1-2k of mail-cash this morning.

Me too…

8 comments for “Well, How Very Dare They?!

  1. Lord T
    March 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

    The same people that think that guns should be banned because one person goes loopy, that we can’t buy poisons because some people kill others, we can’t carry tools because someone stabbed someone else now think this is wrong.

    It is all collective punishment because there are one or two percent of us who are ignorant or criminal.

    What is the difference? Oh! One is something they do and thus it should not be interfered with.

    • March 5, 2012 at 5:38 am

      Spot on!

  2. March 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

    The burden of her argument seems to be that museums are a safe place for teenagers to ‘congregate, hang out and wander around unaccompanied’; she doesn’t seem to think the exhibits relevant at all, if her comparison to Top Shop is anything to go by.

    It’s the Tragedy of the Commons – what if we all sent our children to the museum to ‘hang out’ safely over half-term?

    Oddly enough, I’ve seen what happens on a half-term trip up to London to visit the Science Museum. We were turned away at the door because the museum was full, so we went to the Natural History Museum instead, where the crowds were unbelievable – we finally managed to get in through a side entrance.

    Something odd struck me about the vast numbers of unaccompanied children sitting in large groups in the carpeted corridors; soon afterwards I recognised a beggar who had accosted me in the tunnel from the tube station – Roma, to judge by her appearance – distributing sweets to one of the groups.

    The whole visit was a complete waste of time – you couldn’t get near any exhibits and there was a deafening noise as the mobs of unsupervised children ran around shouting at the tops of their voices. Perhaps Salford Museum has experienced the same problem – though I can’t imagine Ms Birkett having much sympathy.

    • March 5, 2012 at 5:40 am

      “… she doesn’t seem to think the exhibits relevant at all…”

      Good point. She seems mostly interested in their child-minding ability.

  3. March 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Me too.

    There’s something about Dea’s writing isn’t there. Something to do with meeting a deadline or you don’t get paid. So what goes down well with Guardian readers? Ah I know…

    • March 5, 2012 at 5:40 am

      Kevin McKenna’s column about sponsoring a leopard attracted the same critiscism! 😆

  4. Tedious Tantrums
    March 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    There is another phenomenon which is afflicting museums and the cafe culture. Yummy muumies. Go to a museum around my way and invariably the cafes are full of them. Cafes are the same.

    It wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that they take up huge amounts of room and they make a huge noise and they have no interest in the actual museum.

    Snobby about museums? They are patchy and trendy in the way a lot of them display or “tell the story”. I used to go frequently to a museum of antiquities. It was just what a boy of 11-12 wanted, loads of swords, a guillotine and guns and it was dark and dingy.

    I used to go swimming with a few other kids of my age. It was half an hour on the bus to get there and the same back and an hours swim plus queuing. No adult supervison. I don’t remember a single bad thing happening.

    Can we have our lives back please?

    • March 5, 2012 at 5:41 am

      I wish…. 😥

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