On Sunday, 20 November 2022, some 15 children took over the LAM museum in Lisse. Junior Viewing Coaches aged from 8 to 12 received training behind the scenes and then guided museum visitors. “We want children to be able to experience first-hand that their opinions and perspectives matter”, says Sietske van Zanten, director of the LAM. “As a plus, adults had the opportunity to learn to see like children again.”
World Children’s Day
Initiated in 1954 by UNICEF and the United Nations, Sunday, 20 November is World Children’s Day. Sietske van Zanten, director of the LAM, says: “At the LAM museum, we take children seriously each and every day. But 20 November is even more reason to pay special attention to them. We want to show that, as adults, we can learn just as much from children as they can from us.”
Children are big fans of the LAM museum. With the Junior Viewing Coach Day, the LAM gives them the opportunity to acquire skills as Viewing Coaches at an early age. Sietske explains: “Programmes and schools exist to encourage and train talented youngsters in sport and music, but there’s hardly anything for the visual arts, viewing and thinking creatively.”
Previous, children aged 8 to 12 had been able to apply for the LAM’s Junior Viewing Coach Day. Sietske says: “We had hoped to find five suitable Junior Viewing Coaches. In the end, however, we were able to give 15 children the opportunity to be a Viewing Coach. And we had to ask a lot of enthusiastic children to apply again next year.”
Before getting to work in the museum, the Junior Viewing Coaches received a Viewing Coach crash course covering all sorts of conversation techniques – how to talk to adults about art, how to start the conversation and how to coach someone in looking at an artwork. Naturally, museum staff shared interesting facts about the artworks as well.
The LAM is where international artists share their unique takes on eating, drinking and shopping. The artworks enable visitors to see ordinary things in a different way. “We hope visitors will hold on to these unique perspectives even after they leave the museum”, says Sietske.
Children have always had a special place in the LAM. For example, the museum gives primary school students the opportunity to be LAM trainees and LAM experts. This often results in surprising situations.
Sietske concludes: “Here, it’s often the children who are the ones taking their parents to the museum, and it’s often the children showing adults how to look at art. Our approach has shown time and again that it’s your own opinion and your own experience that matters, regardless of how old you might be.”