The slow museum: the affordances of a university art museum as a nurturing and caring space for young children and their families

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Museums are increasingly considering civic responsibilities towards the communities of which they are a part. In this study, a group of families with children aged between two and four years visited a university art museum for multiple facilitated sessions within a participatory research project. Drawing on Morse’s (2020) work on caring museum practices, this article explores the potential of museums to support young families through key affordances: time, connection, and exploration. We demonstrate how, by offering opportunities to slow down, build relationships, and take risks, the museum can become a nurturing space of care and connectedness. We contrast this care-centred approach with the pressure exerted on both the museum and early years sectors of target-setting approaches with easily measurable outcomes demanding a singular focus on rapid linear progress. The analysis presented here resists this model, offering instead an approach rooted in gentle attention and openness. Keywords: museums, families, young children, participatory research, care, slowness

Museums, families, young children, participatory research, care, slowness
Journal Title
Museum Management and Curatorship
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Informa UK Limited