Toward a Critical Children’s Museology: The Anything Goes Exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw

Monica Eileen Patterson


For decades, Museum Studies scholars have called for a new ‘critical museology’ with greater inclusion of marginalized communities and diversification of exhibition content, but children have been largely ignored in these efforts. This paper explores the possibilities for what I call a new ‘Critical Children’s Museology’ through in-depth analysis of the Anything Goes exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. Curated by 69 children, this ground-breaking exhibition radically broke from current and traditional museological practice by offering prominent institutional space and professional support for children’s cultural production in the form of curated exhibition galleries and programming. I analyze the exhibition, its production process, and its strengths and limitations to consider the possibilities and challenges of bringing child-centred praxis into museology. This work contributes to the larger charge of democratizing museum and curatorial practice by upending the patronizing view of children as passive recipients of museum offerings, focusing instead on their capacities for cultural production, critical interpretation, and curatorial innovation.


children, museum, curating, exhibits, Poland

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Copyright (c) 2021 Monica Eileen Patterson

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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