Two aims of modern social policy have radically affected the character and role played by museums in many countries, offering new ideas for their function.
One objective focuses on the optimum exploitation of people’s spare time given the existing potentialities and alternatiνes. The other seeks the deνelopment of society as a whole through a broader exposure to and participatlon of the public in cultural issues and activities.
The year 1979 was dedicated by the Unlted Nations to the Child. In this year the Benaki Museum started approaching and exρerimenting with programs of an educatlonal character.
The first of these programs referred to children of ages 7-12, lasted twenty days, was housed in the exhibition areas where Folk Art is shown and had approximately six hundred participants. For the effective organization of games and the creative cooperation of the children credit must be given to the generous assistance of the Greek Girl Scouts Organizatlon.
Attempts were made by the Museum to channel the educational materiaI produced for this program (three booklets with forty transparencies each and with elucidating texts οn the relevant period and its artistic production) to the two hundred schools equipped wlth projectors.
The Benaki Museum also tried to enrich its educational programs wlth more activities always aiming to familiarize children with traditional art. For this purpose a series of editions were published. Μoreover, special programs were initiated by the Museum for the better information of school children that would have been led there rather unprepared.
Special effort has been made so that the educational programs οΙ the Museum appear fresh and entirely differentiated from the idea οf school teaching. Children must be persuaded that by playing games in the Museum they are not being asked to pass any kind οf test. Νο dishonest competition or cheating is needed. Most questions do not demand special knowledge to be answered or have definite answers to them. Two of the programs are addressed to elementary school children, while a third is addressed to high school students.
The Administrative Committee οf the Benaki Museum recognizing the importance οf the educational programs has decided to create a new, separate Department. The new scheme brings along new perspectives and plans, as well as problems that must soon be solved.
Α broad cooperation of all museums οn this subject is a necessity. The involvement οf the Ministry οf Education in the issue, at a later stage, will be essential as well as critical to the result. Moreover, the engagement οf various cultural and educational societies in the reinforcement of the relationship between children and their cultural heritage will undoubtedly contribute to the promotion οf the country as a whole.