I lifted this photo from Jonathan at Kickshaw Productions, and I don’t know where he found it. This would have made me sad under any circumstances, but now that most museums are still closed, it makes me really sad for the opportunity these kids lost, and mad at the adults who should have better managed the time in the museum. I really hate that it looks like these kids missed out on a great art experience.  I had the pleasure of seeing Night Watch some years ago with two teens (and several art-loving adults) and it was one of the highlights of that trip.

Actually, museums are beginning to reopen, and I think that’s a good thing as long as numbers of visitors are limited and that visitors use good sense. Most of the museums I’ve visited over the past few years have not been so crowded that keeping a safe distance from others would be difficult.

I want to thank all of you who have sent birthday cards for Magda Makkay.  It’s not too late to get yours in the mail!  I’ll be mailing the package of them on June 18th, and if there are stragglers I’ll be sending a second packet if necessary.

Magda Makkay

c/o Lizzie Bramlett

PO Box 493

Clyde, NC 28721


Many, many thanks!


Filed under Viewpoint

16 responses to “Updates

  1. How is it they were permitted to have their phones with them for this type of visit? Of course, I blame whoever was in charge.
    bonnie in provence


    • Several commenters have pointed out that they could be performing a chass assignment or be looking at the museum’s app. No matter. This is not the way to get kids interested in art.


      • Christina

        With the greatest respect Lizzie and as a designer and someone who who has taught art and design to students I disagree. If kids find technology tools stimulate their interest in art then that is great and should be supported. There are different ways of seeing and different ways of learning. This photo has been doing the rounds and the intent to shame the kids has rightly backfired thanks to some excellent commentaries.


  2. Michael Mc Kenna

    I read the original article and it states these children were using the museum app after a discussion concluded on the painting.What this photo shows is how many people jump to conclusions from pictures and don’t bother to fact check the situation.


    • There have been quite a few articles written about the photo, which was taken, it seems, way back in 2014. What struck me about all the articles was the vagueness of the details. As far as I can find, no teacher nor school has jumped up to claim, “Hey! Those are my kids and they were doing an assignment.” Instead, I’m reading general information about how the museum has an app. One article claims that there’s a photo of the kids gathered around the work, enraptured. But all the photos I’ve seen used are of different kids, and even a different painting.

      I don’t think anyone actually knows the truth behind the photo, but I’m willing to give the kids the benefit of the doubt.


  3. Rebekka

    There is an article exploring the story behind this photograph here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/12103150/Rembrandt-The-Night-Watch-The-real-story-behind-the-kids-on-phones-photo.html
    Keep in mind that the kids may be doing an assignment or something. Some museums have apps now too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The article is one of many that I found about the photo. It does identify the photographer, but I’m not reading any concrete facts about that particular moment in time.


    • This may all be photoshopped or some other fakery. Or not. I thought the Guardian article was very interesting. There is no way of knowing what they were doing with their phones, maybe texting pals, maybe reading about art. Not perhaps the best timing, to be sitting in a museum reading the lecture that perhaps should have been delivered in person. I also wonder if the museum permits that level of phone use, and if anyone has tried to figure out if that interior looks like the interior of the museum in holland where the work is on display. Just thoughts….
      bonnie in provence


      • From what I can gather, the photo was originally posted on the twitter account of the man who took the photo. His intent seems to have been along the lines of “Kids these days!” but it’s interesting how many different possibilities there are concerning the photo!


  4. I have to agree with the other commenters that maybe this isn’t what it appears to be. The kids may have had no choice in the matter.

    Given our first-hand experience of technology being required to access any info about what’s on display, these kids are likely experiencing the same thing.

    I’d imagine they resent it less than I do, with nothing to compare it with. They don’t remember when placards and people did the explaining. It’s a shame whoever was in charge couldn’t wait until they returned to the school to pull their focus from the real world, back into cyberspace.


    • At any rate, it is a complete waste of their time in the museum. Having taken hundreds of children (a few years younger than these) on school trips, I can tell you that the easiest way to lose enthusiasm on a trip is to throw in a lot of tasks that could more easily be done back at school. There’s nothing like an excited real live docent to get kids interested in art and history.

      Not to mention that for a work of this magnitude, the teacher should have already pointed out the dynamics of the painting before the visit. Kids love knowing what to look for. It gives them a connection with what they are viewing, and makes them feel smart that they actually picked up on the instruction. I’ve seen this dozens of times. But I’ve never seen a kid get excited about sitting and reading when there are wonderful things surrounding her.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. John

    Teenage girls, and teenage boys, are trying desperately hard to learn how to socialize with teenage boys, and teenage girls. A five-hundred-year-old painting is absolutely nothing compared to a boy one grade ahead. Old codgers have been complaining about teenagers since cave-dwellers learned to grunt.


  6. jacq staubs

    Considering the age of the parents generation …ignorance and the ramifications thereof is not bliss – only to them we are coping a perfect example.


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