Hands On! Logo int. Accociation of Children in Museums

Children in Museums Award 2021

Winner 2021

Dutch Open Air Museum, Arnhem, The Netherlands

At a virtual ceremony which took place on the evening of Friday 12 November at the 13th Hands On! Conference hosted by the FRida & FreD Children’s Museum in Graz and the ZOOM Children’s Museum in Vienna, the results of the 2021 Children in Museums Award were announced. 34 museums took part in the competition from 16 countries, with a shortlist of 12 finalists.



Logo Children in Museums Award
Logo Children in Museums Award
Handson! Winner The Children in Museums Award

The museum portrays the history of everyday life of the past 400 years in The Netherlands.
An interactive exhibition presents the Canon of Dutch history, and outdoors a 44-hectare park contains 100 original buildings. Dutch society is constantly changing, and the museum includes displays about former immigrants. The Restart programme for schoolchildren aged 11-15 concerns universal experiences of immigrants when coming to a new country. After the first concept was mapped out the museum invited school classes to come in to pilot the game. Questionnaires and interviews helped to find out what the pupils liked and disliked, and necessary adjustments were made to the game. The programme begins at school, examining the main reasons for immigration. Young people need to be able to decide things for themselves, and students are tested on their knowledge, persistence and adaptability, as well as on their ability to be self-motivating. In the museum they are provided with iPads, they get basic instructions and must interact with museum staff, visitors and each other. It is not common practice for school groups to mix with other visitors. The iPad with its carefully constructed game structure, guides them through the park like a ‘Gamemaster’. The assignments are varied; sometimes they need to be at a certain place at a designated time to meet someone, at other times they can calculate and decide for themselves which assignments are required to gain enough points. Real immigrants experience frustrations and disappointments, and the museum made a conscious decision in consultation with teachers and migrants to make rejection an integral part of the game. Only by experiencing these emotions for themselves can students truly appreciate the situations faced by migrants. At the end of the game a short evaluation with the children has proved they are excited and pleased they have passed the test. Teachers receive the full test results of each group and can talk about the whole experience back at school. The very imaginative use of the museum’s huge outdoor space and buildings is ideal for this programme, but with some adjustments it would be possible to adapt the programme for other categories of museum. Restart more than fulfils the museum’s educational aim to ‘inspire, motivate and awaken students’. It has also proved extremely successful at pushing the limits of what is deemed appropriate for children to experience, by incorporating and maintaining the balance of realistic examples of rejection and frustration in the programme. The museum is to be congratulated on coming up with an innovative, interactive and thoroughly enjoyable experience for pupils.