When Tiss was little, and we were just freshly moved to Latvia, I did what any self respecting mother/museum curator does.  I took my kid to museums.  Doesn't matter if they've only just started to walk - museums are places for kids and parents, right?  Places where mothers can combine a bit of "me time" with entertaining the family.  

Well, that's was my firm belief when I arrived in this country.  And for a few years, I desperately held on to my belief and trundled Tiss to museums in Riga.  Unfortunately, at that time museums in Latvia hadn't got the memo about mothers, kids and museums. Throughout most of our visits, we endured gallery attendants following us like hawks waiting to pounce on defenceless field mice.  We endured gallery guards screaming at us (yes - screaming) because Tiss got excited about exhibits and accidentally touched the glass, or stepped over a line, or sat where he shouldn't.  I endured lectures from ladies about the fact that prams could under no circumstances be brought into the exhibition hall (and yes - I was expected to leave my sleeping newborn outside in the snow in the pram), and then there were the well-meaning old biddies who told me I was misguided, because my toddler wouldn't remember anything from the visit, and I was wasting my time pointing out the ducks in the impressionist painting, or the details in the diorama.  And after a few years of this kind of treatment, I finally got the hint:  Mum, don't come to the museum.  And if you must  - please leave your snotty kid at home.  By the time Mikus was born, I had almost stopped trying, and we soon stopped going to Latvian museums altogether, bar the science museum which has a "please touch" room of cupboards with doors you can open.  To be frank, I could not bear the prospect of entering those hallowed halls and the inevitable bad experience to follow.  And besides, it was lonely, because there were never any other mothers or children in any of the empty galleries.  

This is not to say that we never went to ANY museums with the boys, mind.  We have been to plenty wherever we have travelled.  The boys have been to friendly museums and galleries in Mexico, England Germany, Italy, Australia, Sweden - lots of places - except Latvia. They have loved all of these experiences, so much so, that when we say 'we're going to a museum' the boys will squeal with excitement.

So this Saturday I woke up and lay in bed and wondered what we could do with the family.  And I found myself wishing we could fly off for a couple of days, so that we could take the boys to some museums. And then I thought: hang on, we've got museums in Riga!  They boys are older now, less likely to touch something accidentally, and more likely to listen to instructions from me.  And another 10 years have passed - maybe Latvian museums have had a dose of customer service training since Tiss was born.  Maybe - just maybe - we (both us and the museums themselves) are grown up enough to run the gallery attendant gauntlet without anyone yelling. So we made a tentative trip to the art gallery.    We picked  an activity especially for kids (!!), where you were encouraged to draw in the latest exhibition.  I prepared the boys with pep talks about not running and yelling.  I made sure they weren't hungry or thirsty or hyped.  ...And we did it.  We had a successful visit to the art gallery.  The boys observed art works, and  sketched and drew and coloured in.  There were no altercations or bad blood, and everyone seemed to have a good time!  

So much so, that this positive experience has made me make a resolution.  We are not going to just stop at this triumph - oh no!  While the weather remains in winter/spring/cold slushy limbo, we are going to pick a new museum as often as we can, and  tour as many as we can. Next weekend I'm hoping we can go to one of my personal favourites - I am praying they haven't modernized their fabulously vintage dioramas and taxidermied specimens... but more about that later!

2 Responses so far.

  1. Love the lying on the floor artistic interpretation. The expression though suggests he is contemplating dental surgery. Cannot believe it has taken you 10 years to take on the oppressive museum staff. Surely after conquering the russian run swimming pools you were up for this challenge years ago. We practically live at the GOMA- some amazing photos coming soon. Missing you heaps with recent posts. melx

  2. Journo101 says:

    Taxidermy?! I smell photographs extreme...

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