Children friendly museums

01 May 2010


Though admittedly doubtful at first as to what could possibly excite them in a museum, Damla and İsmail were pleasantly surprised when they came to the Turkish capital to visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in the scope of the UN Joint Programme “Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia”.

New Horizons - Fascinated by the historical artifacts, most of which dates back centuries, these two youngsters, along with 34 more children and 23 adults from 10 different cities in Turkey attended a special training programme organized in Ankara on 12-14 April 2010. Both children, who are now certified Museum Trainers, will take this experience back to their cities to share with their peers.

The training in Ankara was implemented by expert trainers and researchers from Ankara University Educational Sciences Faculty, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and various museums around Turkey in order to create a positive perspective about museums and art among children who generally associate museums with boring and pointless school trips. By helping them develop an appreciation for museums and raise awareness about cultural heritage, this special programme will also be able to create a museum training culture among the participants and their peers.

Activities of this programme included several workshops where the participants created replicas of sculptures and jewelry from the civilizations who previously called Anatolia home such as the Hittites, Phrygians and Lydians. The “Mute Map” work encouraged children transfer their perception and the impact of history and culture on the paper, both with drawings and words. The participants also visited the Çengelhan Museum, home to more recent historical items.

At the end of the three-day training, children said that their perceptions of museums changed after they realized that museums build bridges between societies and they also began to understand the importance of history and cultural heritage. They said they will now look at “those monotonous history lessons” through a more informed eye. The common enthusiasm that they all shared was the idea of repeating this “museum training” in their cities for their peers. It was not just the children who benefited from the training. The 23 adults agreed that “museum training” should be added into children’s rights trainings.

The “museum training” will be repeated in Erzurum and Kars in May and June with the overall aim of creating “children friendly museums” and “museum friendly children”.

United Nations Joint Program “Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia” (UNJP) aims at developing and enhancing cultural tourism in Kars, contributing to social cohesion and reducing income disparities between the people of Kars and the rest of Turkey. The UNJP is funded by the MDG Achievement Fund entrusted to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) by the Government of Spain, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and United Nations Organisations UNDP, UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). As one of the four agencies of UN Joint Programme UNICEF aims at raising awareness among children about cultural assets and heritage and promotes their active participation in process.