Friday, Panel 1, AUDITORIUM 09:00 - 10:30


All presentations in this panel:

  • Teddy bear taxonomy – identifying new species from the nursery, Anne Katrine Gjerløff, Mogens Trolle, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Making a children’s exhibition: the ordinary is extraordinary, Sophie Giroux, Museé de la Civilisation, Québec, Canada

  • Release your inner child: creativity, joy and healing during the Nightwatch Museum Take Over at FOMU, Naomi Vandenbroeck, Leonie Delaey, Fotomuseum Antwerp – FOMU, Antwerp, The Netherlands

  • The Learning Universe of H.C.Andersen’s Hus and Ville Vau, Mette Kronborg Vedel Kiilerich, Cecilie Horup Skøtt, H.C.Andersen’s Hus, Odense, Denmark

Teddy bear taxonomy – identifying new species from the nursery

Anne Katrine Gjerløff, Mogens Trolle

Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

Keywords: engagement, informal learning, scientific concepts, children's culture, zoological taxonomy

Nurseries and children’s rooms are stuffed with animal toys and a teddy bear is often the child’s best friend. How can we build on these strong relations between child and animal to communicate key parts of science to our youngest visitors?  Taxonomy is a fundamental part of biological research and collection but is notoriously difficult to explain to both adult and young visitors.  In a series of Teddy Bear Taxonomy events, we invited our visitors to bring their stuffed toy of all kinds to the Zoological Museum to meet the Teddy Bear Zoologists and to learn the species name and taxonomic classification of their favorite stuffed toy. As a part of the event all the toy specimens got a handwritten and stamped identification tag for the child to take home, as a souvenir of the museum experience.  Through individual dialogue between museum staff and the children we created a personal and emotional interest in knowing about taxonomy: how can I know what species my toy is? What is its scientific name and what does this mean?  With Teddy Bear Taxonomy we brought a complex scientific concept down to earth and created an informal and fun way of talking about animals and science, where both the children and the staff activated their expert knowledge about the specimens. The events also revealed an insight into the biodiversity of nurseries as well as identifications of entirely new “species”, and as such was a joyful experience to both visitors and museums staff. We will present the concept and experiences of The Teddy Bear Taxonomy events to inspire others not to be afraid of alternative, non-scientific and informal methods in museum engagement.

Presentation Anne Katrine Gjerløff and Mogens Trolle


Making a children’s exhibition: the ordinary is extraordinary

Sophie Giroux

Museé de la Civilisation, Québec, Canada

Keywords: free play, wonder and joy, object-based learning, feeling at home at the museum

It is a given: for children to feel welcome in museums, they need a space where they can play around. When renewing its children’s space, the Musée de la civilisation started out with an idea: what if this space became an actual exhibition? An exhibition with real artifacts, just like any adult can enjoy. The creation of this brand-new exhibition, “Ma maison” (“My Place”), was an exercise in experimentation: can artifacts from our collections foster a sense of wonder in our young visitors? Can children be allowed to play and explore freely, without any specific instructions? Will they be able to both learn and enjoy themselves?

At the beginning, one fact was obvious: children learn better when they are happy and interested in what they encounter. Fortunately, they are also great at being naturally curious. The slightest spark might become a great storm of discovery and learning. We also know that museum artifacts can be just the thing to ignite that spark: we just had to arrange a meeting between children and those objects in fun, interactive ways.

When it comes to being happy, it comes with the territory: when a space is designed with children and families in mind, it becomes a natural place to hang out.

By the end of the presentation, we aim to share the insights and the pedagogical principals which guided us in creating “Ma maison” (“My Place”), and how it helps make the whole museum (not just the children’s exhibit) more accessible and more enjoyable to children and their grownups.

Presentation Sophie Giroux

Release your inner child: creativity, joy and healing during the Nightwatch Museum Take Over at FOMU

Naomi Vandenbroeck, Leonie Delaey

Fotomuseum Antwerp – FOMU, Antwerp, The Netherlands


Keywords: Participation, Playfulness, Creativity, Museum Take Over, Challenging the status quo

What happens when 15 young artists release their inner child in a museum? How can museums stimulate child-like creativity and playfulness? And what is the effect on its visitors? In April ‘22 FOMU Antwerp hosted their annual Nightwatch Museum Take Over. Nightwatch is a participatory program: the full organization is in hands of a team of 5 Young Entrepreneurs, students and young professionals aspiring to change the narratives in museums today. This presentation covers the good practices we take away from the CHILD-ISH museum take over. We touch on the participatory foundations of the Nightwatch program, the importance of co-creating with young talents and their networks, the value of bringing playfulness inside your exhibitions and events, and the necessity of representation and safe(r) spaces within the museum walls. The theme of Nightwatch ’22: CHILD-ISH. 15 young artists (16-26y) hijacked the museum with their creations. During a creative coaching program of 2 months these upcoming talents created new work to present during the CHILD-ISH museum take over. The guidelines were: forget everything you know about exhibitions and museums, draw outside the lines, let your inner child free!  The result: an out-of-the-box museum experience including an automated skipping rope, a sculpture made of teddy bears, a painting built on 15 oranges, a sleepover party performance, dreamlike paper garlands, poems reminiscing on childhood, a bouncing castle, candy necklaces and so much more. Personal and universal takes on what it means to child-ish or childlike. Purity, playfulness, wonder, being unrestrained, intuitive and free; but for some it’s also associated with childhood trauma, coping mechanisms, naivete or immaturity. The CHILD-ISH exhibition included these many different facets of childhood and left visitors feeling joyful, carefree, recognized, surprised, touched. Some described their visit as a healing experience.

Presentation Naomi Vandenbroeck and Leonie Delaey

The Learning Universe of H.C. Andersen´s Hus and Ville Vau

Mette Kronborg Vedel Kiilerich

Cecilie Horup Skøtt

H.C.Andersen’s Hus, Odense, Denmark


Keywords: Teaching, Hans Christian Andersen, Children, Philosophy, Play

The new Hans Christian Andersen House is not a traditional museum. One of the main exhibition concepts is, that we do not only speak about Andersen, but also as Andersen.

Therefore, the guided learning tours in the teaching department “The Universe of Learning” are anything but traditional. The tours are constructed like an Andersen fairy tale, we go into dialogue with the students, like Andersen did with his readers, and the activities, in which the students participate, are based on Andersens own artistic methods. Hear more about the Universe of Learning from curator Mette Kiilerich and communicator Cecilie Skøtt.

Presentation Mette Kronborg Vedel Kiilerich and Cecilie Horup Skøtt