Must everything be a creche these days? December 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Susanna Rustin in The Guardian is being annoying today:

Museums have invested hugely in access programmes over the last decade, and many have figures to prove it. Manchester Art Gallery saw pet visits increase from 32,000 to 77,000 over the last four years. Even grown-up and not obviously pet-friendly collections, such as the Wallace and Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, now have pet days. While pet owners are hugely appreciative of what galleries have to offer, and above all of the fact that they are free, most can remember a visit to an art gallery where they ended up feeling awkward and in the way.

You are probably spluttering at this point. Dogs and Delacroix? Cats and Corot? No one needs to bring a pet python to see Piero della Franchesca, right? Well yes, you are right. But neither does anyone need to bring a two year old. Yet the Guardian is actually talking about parents rather than pet owners – I just substituted a few words. Susanna spends rather a lot of the article talking about the awkwardness that occasionally puts off poor parents when attempting to use the National Gallery as a creche. What it is conspicuously silent on how screaming, running and tantrums spoil the sublimity of Stubbs for the rest of us. You can’t bring a wolfhound to see the Watteau, so why can you bring a toddler to the Titian? Or do the non-child-equipped have no rights in this matter at all?


6 Responses to “Must everything be a creche these days?”

  1. The kids are often well behaved. But the parents… more than once I’ve been physically pushed away from art or made to feel very very uncomfortable by parents because I wanted to spend more than two seconds looking at a famous painting in a UK gallery. My memories of the Estorick are still marred by a particularly nasty example of this: having children with you does not give you license to bully the other people in the gallery…

  2. I’m sorry but that’s just complete nonsense. There’s nothing intrinsically “adult-only” about public art galleries. I have taken my daughter (now 4) to galleries since she was very young. She really enjoys them and has as much right to do so as any of the adults who go there. It’s not a question of people with children having special rights, it’s a question of all (including children) having the same rights of access to public goods.

    Now obviously, with this comes a responsibility to behave in a considerate manner. That’s also no different for children (and the adults who are responsible for them) than for adults.

  3. No, it isn’t nonsense Sean. The children have the right to spoil it for the adults, but not vice versa. If your four year old is quiet and well behaved, then that’s fine. But if I can’t play the piccolo in front of the Picasso, why should she be allowed to scream there? Yet she is. You may well be a responsible parent who does not let her, and that’s great: but there is a fundamental inequality in the situation in that children are allowed to do things which ruin the experience of our galleries for many adults, simply in the name of access.

  4. Just as a general principle, I think they should be abolished.

  5. Children, Charles, or creches?

  6. People (of any age) have no right to make a nuisance of themselves, and if you had said that I would have no objection. Singling children out specifically is missing the point.

    How’s that “no-brainer” Greek CDS trade working out for you? Hehe.