A Forgotten History

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This article provides a preliminary survey of the spaces in US art museums for children throughout the twentieth century, briefly discussing the social forces and alliances that initiated and expanded these spaces before they became a forgotten history. Three museums serve as primary examples: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), and Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). Junior museums and children’s rooms within art museums flourished from the beginning to the second half of the twentieth century and took various forms: exhibitions, single rooms, and entire wings. These spaces almost completely disappeared from art museums until families became the new target audience at the start of the twenty-first century, and museum educators began creating children’s spaces as if they were a recent development, unaware of their history.