When you think of museums, do you think of trudging beside Mom or Dad, reading lots of little signs and, most importantly, not touching anything?
What if going to a museum meant packing your pillow and blanket so you could snuggle up next to mummies?
That's what about 280 kids and their parents got to do at a sleepover this spring at London's famous British Museum. At the Egyptian-themed event, yoga mats and air mattresses were unrolled near carved reliefs from Assyrian palaces. Stuffed animals were lined up under lion-headed goddesses.
"Everything is priceless, irreplaceable, yet here we are," said Paul Booton, a college professor, as his 7-year-old daughter, Caitlin, ate chili peanuts under a limestone bust from 1400 B.C. Museums are no longer places "to be defended from children," he said.
Of course, no one actually gets much sleep at a sleepover. The kids walked around the exhibits barefoot, made mummies out of toilet paper and wrote their names in hieroglyphics. They also made lists of things they would take to the afterworld. (Chocolate, pets and video games topped most inventories.)
The towering statues of ancient Egyptian kings served as a spooky backdrop for a bedtime story that featured chimes and whispers echoing in the sculpture gallery.
The kids wore comfy clothes to sleep in: baggy jeans, sweatpants and hooded tops. The gallery's floor was littered with a riot of orange, purple and camouflage-patterned sleeping bags. Sticker books and juice boxes emerged from suitcases and backpacks, bringing Harry Potter, SpongeBob SquarePants and the Little Mermaid into the tombs of the kings.
Not everything was perfect, of course: Alarms got set off and at least two kids threw up from all the excitement. But most kids were thrilled to watch their flashlight beams dance against the museum's fancy ceiling after "lights out."
"You make friends," said Sebastian Sear, 9. "You can twirl your torches until 12 o'clock."
-- Bloomberg News