I have my own opinions on the current situation with the Fresno Met. But I want to know what YOU think.

Please leave a comment by clicking on the title of this entry to take you to the blog and there you can leave a comment. Or email me privately at webmama_tina(at)fresnofamily(dot)com. (replacing the words in parenthesis with the symbols.)

I am very curious as to what the people of Fresno are thinking about this whole deal. Particularly families with children.

Published by WebmamaTina

I am the owner and only person that runs FresnoFamily.com. I created this site in 2001 for myself to fill a need, and it's continued to be useful to our community so I continue to develop and grow it! It is a labor of love. I am a homeschooling, work-at-home mama of 2 teens, living in Fresno with her goofy husband and 4 much-adored kitties, just trying to survive the heat in the summers and find things to do with our family that doesn't take too much of our very stretched pocketbook. And sharing info and ideas here with you. I also run several other online homeschooling businesses, including HomeschoolRealm.com and TinasLearningAdventures.com, and run the largest and most active local homeschool Facebook group, the Fresno Area Homeschoolers group, among other online groups.

10 comments on "So what do YOU think about the Met situation??"

  1. Thanks for all of the info WebmamaTina, we'll definitely check it out.

    A thought or two about the children's museum discussion…

    We've sort of attempted to fill that gap to an extent by maintaining a hands on science center space since 1990. Yes, it's actually been that long.

    And while favorites within that have come and gone, we've felt so strongly about keeping it, knowing that it was the only thing of its kind in Fresno, that it was all that remained open to the public during our renovation.

    Doing that was WAY more challenging (financially and logistically) than it may have seemed.

    So, we try to fill that gap to this day. Thankfully there are other arts/science/cultural organizations in the Valley that serve a similar mission (Discovery Center, the zoo, Imagine U in Visalia, etc).

    Honestly, we're hearing more these days about there being too much emphasis on "kids' stuff" than not enough – so it's a challenging balance. Doing what we're doing, and changing out our children's displays as frequently as possible is the best way we've seen to support all audiences and their needs.

    Some upcoming kid's/family events at the Met

    Saturday: The Science of Ice Cream

    September 12: Super Science Sleepover

    Upcoming children's exhibitions:

    Opening September 18: Chagall for Children

    Opening January 30: Creatures of the Abyss

    Much more in the way of events to be announced soon.

    John English
    Fresno Metropolitan Museum

  2. Have a Ball is a lot of fun – and was indeed a Met creation back in the early 90's. We kept it (what's out now is only about half of the original show) and we bring it out by popular demand on occasion.

    I thank you for spreading the word and helping to further open the dialogue – and I mean it, if anyone has questions about anything we do, email me at johne@fresnomet.org, or call me at (559) 441-1444 ext 227. Seriously – that's part of my job, is to interact with our community and find out what they liked and what they didn't.

    There's so much in WebmamaTina's original post that I didn't touch upon, and I could talk for hours about. If you want the long version, drop me a line!

    John English
    Fresno Metropolitan Museum

  3. I have visited the Met many times since coming to Fresno, and have always enjoyed it. My 8 yo loves the Met and we have taken advantage of many weekend programs and several of their camps. The staff seem to truly enjoy children and I've had positive experiences with all of them. They know my daughter by name and are very friendly.

    The camps and programs are fairly priced and wonderful. My daughter comes home tired, covered with paint and glue, proudly displaying her art/projects. All the while chattering away about the facts she has gleaned during the day.

    While I don't have young children, I have been taking my daughter to the Met since she was 2. I always simply explained that the guard was "protecting the pictures." I have been followed around at museums for most of my life and have come to expect it at most fine art venues. Too many smudgy/sweaty fingerprints would lead to costly restorations. We would probably also cease getting loans from artists and other museums were we to return things in less than pristine condition.

    I haven't seen Bob the Builder, but I have enjoyed the new downstairs. It might not have quite the "cool" factor as the exploratorium loans, but as a family we have enjoyed it. In thinking over what is currently there, I can perhaps see that there is less of interest to toddlers than there was before.

    I find the Met a wonderful part of Fresno and look forward to working through their "growing pains" and continuing to enjoy this valuable community resource.

  4. And while I'm thinking about it…
    another thing I've heard over and over and over and OVER again from local moms (including myself): WHY doesn't Fresno have a children's museum??? Oakhurst has one! Visalia has one!! Why don't we???

    If you're looking for something that would bring in a LOT of people on a regular basis…perhaps you might consider dedicating a whole floor or 2 to creating a "children's museum"??

    Actually thinking about it right now…that floor that holds Bob, and the open floor (candy exhibit) above, would be perfect for that.

    If you want to see what I mean, take a visit to

    I mean GO there, not just the websites. Your little one will love it. They are each about 45min away or so. Maybe you've already been.

    Both are great examples of what we NEED in fresno! And what moms would gladly pay to visit over and over and over again. (I would!)

    In fact I would bet you that if you put out the call, you could even gather a whole team of moms that would love to be consultants on something like that. I would volunteer but I've already got my hands full helping out the Discovery Center and the new homeschool resource center that I've founded on their property. But I would seriously love to see something like a blending of the best of those 2 museums exist here in Fresno and if you wanted to make it happen, I would happily forward calls for help to all the moms I'm connected with, and post on my website.

  5. I think part of where we may be losing you *is* the programs you say you haven't participated in.

    We have had, since our opening, several large events that basically amounted to days devoted entirely to the kids of Fresno, tons of free activities, etc. We had a huge opening day for Bob the Builder and a big Easter event called Bunnypalooza.

    There are several elements in play here which are very detailed and I won't bore you or your readers with the long story of the inner workings of the museum biz.

    Much of what you loved in the past was here as a result of them actually being traveling exhibitions – they come and go, we don't own them, and in fact it costs a lot of money for us to bring them here.

    New things will come that you'll love just as much as those exhibits of the past, and if we brought back the same things we had 5 years ago, obviously that wouldn't go over well. My best advice would be to visit our website, look at the Exhibitions and Events pages, and see all of the things that are coming up. Doing that periodically to plan your trips and know what's there to see (along with emailing us or calling us) will greatly enhance your visit.

    We're an art and science museum. That has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that we get to bring so many wonderful things to the Valley and have the ability to give folks a different experience every time we visit.

    The disadvantage is there isn't always a gallery full of huge things for kids to climb on. And kids do.

    I apologize for the negative experiences you may have had with security guards here, but you also must realize, both you and I being parents, that there are always "those parents" who sometimes aren't the best at controlling their children in a public space.

    There's unfortunately very little we can do about that, aside from guards reminding folks.

    You've cited a lot of frustrations and I wish I could speak to each and every parent individually that you cite and explain all of this to them (they or you can call me personally, anytime, by the way – that's my job). For example, the old courtyard, where every tree was diseased and dying, and the cobblestone pavers caused tens of kids to twist their ankles. We redesigned it to create a large green space for children and families to enjoy. Once the trees mature fully, it will be even more beautiful.

    The main thing I do want them and you to know though is this – we are your museum. We need dialogue like this, you telling us what you like and what you don't (though we'd love to hear about the good stuff too occasionally) so that we can fix what's not working. And so that we can do our best to keep up whatever is.

    You mentioned being a member thanks to a gift. And we're thankful to you and the person who gave you the gift for being a member.

    But understand, that despite some misgivings you may have about the "new" Met – the only way we *can* be everything you want us to be, and be that place in Fresno where there's something for families to do is through the public's support of our programs.

    Come to our family events. Become members. The feedback helps immensely and we appreciate it – but we need the support of the parents in the community too.

    All the best,
    John English
    Manager, Marketing and Communications
    Fresno Metropolitan Museum

  6. found the blogpost: http://blog.orselli.net/2009/08/museum-design-thought-experiment.html

    that's a really fantastic blog too. lots of great info and ideas. 🙂

  7. I actually was at the Bob the Builder opening with my family. And I was impressed because there were so many people (LOTS of kids!) you could barely walk. But that was cool. Not bad. Not fabulous-knock-my-socks-off (but it takes a lot to do that), but it was good. Definitely we were happy to come back again because we got a taste of Bob and wanted to come back when it wasn't so crammed with people. (We did, actually, but somehow picked another day that was crammed, LOL! Third try we got there when the crowds were thin. But by then, the kids weren't as interested in it anymore.)

    I hadn't realized the safety issues or that the trees were dying in the courtyard. It will be quite a few years before we get any sort of shade from those new trees, though. Nothing to do about it now, but its sad, is all. Happens all over Fresno and we still are waiting for the shade to grow. Hard to be patient when its so stinkin hot.

    I understand what you're saying about the kids and the guards. But honestly my kids hadn't done anything yet. I certainly can understand having to be strict because of "those" parents (I get frustrated with them as well), but I think it needs to be balanced with the feeling we get from the place by having all children treated like little delinquents waiting to mess everything up. Its a tough call, I'm sure.

    I'm glad you're open to having these discussions…I've posted on several local mommy groups and asked the moms to come here and respond. Hopefully they will.

    One last thing…I read recently on a museum blog about how museums should actually steer away from the traveling exhibits…I'll find the link. Just thought it was interesting, although might not be entirely relevant for the Met because as I've said, the only exhibits I've actually liked were the traveling ones.

    Although, I will admit to you here that I was literally shocked that the "balls" exhibit in the room with Bob was created in-house. That is pretty darn good, I think, so obviously y'all have it in you. 🙂

  8. (cont from previous post)It just seems there's not a lot about the Met that is really "kid-friendly," other than traveling exhibits (like Bob), and those are short-lived.

    I'm not saying all this to be mean, but just to express how we parents feel about things. From my perspective and from all the parents I've talked to about this.

    We're just frustrated because there's really very little for children in the Valley that's any real quality. AND affordable. With this many people, we really should host a whole bunch of quality educational experiences/museums for our children. But we just don't. Its very sad and disheartening.

  9. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Its good to know that there is much thought being put into things at the Met.

    That said, I want to be perfectly honest with you and say that I've not been particularly impressed in things at the Met since its grand re-opening.

    I've been told that the Met was never actually aimed at children. And if that's so, then that might explain things more. But what I've seen has always been things that lead me to believe that there is an attempt at including children in your mission.

    Now, I don't know a thing about your programs, my children haven't ever participated in them. (I have an 8.5yr old and a 4yr old). I'm only speaking of the museum itself.

    We are currently members, but only because it was a Xmas gift from a relative. Your programs and outreach may very well be whiz-bang.

    As far as the museum is concerned. Since the re-opening I've only been impressed with the Bob the Builder/Balls exhibit. And that wore off pretty quickly. We've been 3 times, and the newness has worn off. As for any of the rest of the displays…I was interested in what the candy display would be about, but I didn't realize it was going to be nearly all pictures (and many of them not in the least interesting to me, much less my children), and we would be followed around closely by a Met person who would repeatedly remind us not to touch anything and make us feel like we were suspected shoplifters. OK, so maybe this display wasn't designed for children, but it left us not feeling welcome at all. And that's not the first time that's happened. Everytime we go, it seems, our children are followed closely by staff/volunteers, reminding them not to touch (except in Bob the Builder…but even in there there are big signs stating you are NOT to climb on many of the displays, which seems silly in a children's exhibit, but ok.)

    The only part of the Met that I was every consistently impressed with in the past was the permanent Science center. Now that's gone and in its place is something that feels less than half its size and pretty much nothing of particular interest for children. *I* find myself bored in the bottom level, my kids definitely are. I don't know who designed any of the stuff on the bottom level but it wasn't with young children in mind, that's for sure. The things you had on loan from the Exploratorium before showed that the designers knew how to captivate children's attention while educating them and at the same time being FUN. There's very little on the bottom level now that even seems interesting, much less fun. Perhaps that's just my opinion, but just about every parent I've talked to about the new Met has said the same thing.

    I think local parents (judging by all that I've talked to) find it very frustrating that such an enormous amount of money went into the "new" Met and it seems like the final product doesn't reflect any real knowledge or understanding of what would make a positive, fun learning experience for our children.

    I hear over and over "what were they THINKING with the light colored carpets???" "What's with the radioactive green everywhere??" (Although *I* actually like the green, most everyone else I've talked to doesn't.) "The building is cut in HALF!!" (I think they mean it feels significantly smaller.) "Where did the cool science stuff go??" "They ruined the beautiful courtyard!!" (Its so sterile out front now, its sad.)

    These are the kinds of things I hear over and over. That and how their children are shadowed and reminded constantly not to touch, and some have overheard school groups even being prepped with a first and foremost rule being "don't touch"! And *I* even saw a sign that specifically said just that! In the downstairs area…something about "we've stepped out, please remember not to touch anything while we're gone." Not an exact quote, but the gist.

  10. Well, I fit into two categories. I'm the father of a family with children (4 yr old Emily). I also happen to work for the Met, as their Manager of Marketing & Communications.

    So, you can either take everything with a pessimistic grain of salt, or with the knowledge that I've seen both sides of the fence in the Met situation, and hopefully can shed some light.

    There's simply no place like the Met in town. With art programs, music programs and the like being cut from school budgets, and field trips sometimes not feasible, we try VERY hard at the Met to fill a substantial amount of gaps in children's lives that weren't there when you and I were kids.

    We bring outreach programs to schools who can't afford to come on field trips. We keep our doors open free of charge at least one night a month for families who wouldn't otherwise be able to come. And we try to bring enriching and fun educational programs to the Valley for kids and families to learn and grow with.

    That's what my grandma wanted when she brought me to the Met as a kid. And that's what I want for my daughter.

    Was the financial situation we found ourselves in something we wanted? Absolutely not. Was it the result of mismanagement on any level? Possibly to some extent. But the Met's leadership of 3-4 years ago when our project started is gone now. Nobody mentions that, but it's true. The goals were noble – to improve our facility so that all audiences could enjoy a museum experience for years to come in a safe, sound building.

    We work on a shoestring budget – always have, really, and we do our best to fill a need in the Valley for the cultural arts, for education, and for the children. That's what we've always tried to do.

    I invite everyone to visit the Met, and please, tell us what you think. All of the info you'll need is here:

    John English
    Manager, Marketing and Communications
    Fresno Metropolitan Museum

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