It's your child's birthday, it's your anniversary, it's your once in a lifetime visit to our country, it's your dad's special birthday, it's your honeymoon.
A special event occasions a special experience; taking a dino mad kid to a natural history exhibition, taking the missus on a guided tour of a stately home. But if you get in touch with a venue a couple of days before you plan to visit, find out that what you want to do or see is fully booked out or unavailable (and advertised as such for months in advance) and then play an emotional blackmail card, the odds are that staff will feel for you - but not be able to do a darn thing about it.
Really, we'll want to help, we'll make suggestions for alternatives, we'll add your name to waiting lists. But if that guided tour is fully booked, we have good (insurance often) reasons why we can't "just squeeze two more on" and if that exhibition is closed we probably can't "let you have a peek" because it'll be covered in dust cloths, hoardings and workmen/curatorial staff, with most of the exhibits missing or not even on display.
I hate saying no to people (I know, I whine a lot here, so that may be a shock) but it hurts knowing there is a disappointed kid whose parents have already said "Yeah! we can do that!" or a new spouse whose ideal honeymoon will be less ideal.
So a plea, if you will, to plan ahead a bit - because at the very least, birthdays happen the same time each year - and the more warning you give your chosen museum, gallery, historic house, castle... the more likely the staff will be able to pull out the stops and make your day awesome.
We want you to be happy, and we want to be the people who make that happen. So plan a little, and we can plan a lot.
Currently recovering with a banana milkshake from the school group visit this morning, who were fantastic. A great example of how teachers can help make a good off site school visit, and make sure everyone has a good time.
It may seem self evident, but these little pointers make a massive difference to how much the students get from a visit, and how much the staff on site are able to do for them. Especially if a school is paying for a visit, every minute spent asking or waiting for students to gather round, shut up, get back on topic etc is a minute where they aren't getting what the school has paid for.
Teachers don't need to do the job of venue staff, but their help is invaluable. The rapport teachers already have with their students is a resource venue staff can use, and can guide students toward a better experience.
Obviously, not my artwork in this cartoon! See www.duggoons.com for some great art based cartoons.
I might have gone full frontal nerd at the British Museum.
Dressed in tweed jacket, sensible long skirt, and with hair straying form my sensible plait, I was genuinely rendered into a mix of slack jawed silence and incoherent excitable mumbling at the sight of the Rosetta Stone.
It may not have helped that having laughed at my reaction, I berated my husband while ineffectually smacking him with a leaflet, thus further reinforcing the batty and comedic female archaeologist archetype.
Couple of pictures showing what caught my eye on our hit and run visit are below.
Listing all we have: cabinets, display materials, archive boxes, benches, wall mounted panels, picture frames...
Measuring all of the above.
Suggesting what could be disposed of, what could go into long term storage, and what we need to keep regular staff access to.
Working out the entire floorspace taken up by all of that, both on display and in storage.
Measuring some items again, as they lean against a wall, so their footprint is actually greater than their width.
Figuring out how that floorspace breaks down in terms of long term storage/regular access needed.
Planning the man hours, skills and resources needed to relocate things.
Moving to drinking coffee...
I'll admit, London Transport Museum was not at the top of my 'must see' museums or sites in London, but I now stand very corrected. As we had to go to there to collect tickets for a guided tour, and had the offer of half price entry, we gave it a go.
I was expecting a possibly interesting look at some old buses, and some info on the development of the underground. What I got was seriously enjoyable couple of hours discovering how London's growing population has needed increasingly complex transport, how transport has helped spread London's suburbs and who the people are using and providing these services.
It's a transport musuem with people at the heart of it - and this makes for an accessible and story based experience I'd recommend to quite a variety of visitors. (Great bonus: free kid's entry goes up to age 17!)
Note - All images in this review can be clicked on for a larger view.
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