What can museums do for sick kids?


Last week my two-year-old son was admitted to hospital, and for the past week he has been confined to a ward. Brody is crazy about dinosaurs and animals, and much of the time has been spent watching The Land Before Time and playing with his toy diplodocus.

So what does this have to do with museums? My son also loves museums, especially those with dinosaurs and animals in their collections. His favourite, the Great North Museum is only a street away from the hospital, but he can’t visit and a loan box would be too much of a health risk to allow on to the ward.

I think museums could have a role to play in making staying in hospital a more pleasant or at least a less boring experience, and confined by hygiene and mobility, digital media seems the ideal tool to do this (again I this relates to the value of a museum investing in their digital platforms not just the physical venue).

I have been reminded this week of a conversation with Tijana Tasich from TATE at MuseumNext Barcelona about how a live video feed from a gallery could enable those who aren’t able to travel, to experience an exhibition.

This could take the form of a tour like the Phygital tour which MAS in Belgium used to allow remote web users to control guides with webcams? Perhaps this would work for older audiences, but I’d imagine that children my son’s age would quickly get bored of this.

What would be fantastic would be the ability to bring a collection of augmented reality dinosaurs and animals from the museum and position them around the ward for him to see, allowing us to bring the museum into the hospital.

Perhaps such an app exists or your museum has ‘an app for that’ (if you do, please tell me, so I can share it with Brody), but I’d encourage every museum to think about how they could make their collections accessible to sick kids and brighten what can be very long and tedious days.

What do you think?

3 Responses to “What can museums do for sick kids?”

  1. Our science museum, Scienceworks, partnered with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne to provide interactive displays for sick kids – http://museumvictoria.com.au/about/mv-blog/mar-2012/scienceworks-exhibits-at-rch/

  2. Margalith Sapir-Bergstein says:

    Hi Jim, first of all I wish your son a prompt and good recovery. Thank you for your thoughts. I’m now working on mounting a historical museum and will take this in consideration for other people.
    You might want to find out with Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv, they have a great program with letters, a b c…ant they might have such a tour. Good luck, m

  3. Tijana Tasich says:

    Hi Jim,
    I missed your not-so-nice news about your son. I hope he’s better already. Great that you remembered and mentioned our conversation and this, I still believe, fabulous idea. Let’s catch up when you are next in London and get us moving on this. It hasn’t been forgotten, only a bit dormant. It’s time to get it out of its winter sleep. I will try and get a ticket for Culture Geek in March;)