Every so often, we get an email like this one: “Hi! We’re looking for a kid-friendly tour of the Vatican Museums!”
Let us translate this email for you: “Hi! We’re coming to Rome with kids and we haven’t thought for a nano-second about what they’re actually going to do and see there!”
If you think about what’s in the Vatican Museums for a bit longer than a nano-second, this is what you’ll come up with:
- Several miles (yes, really!) of museum corridors, which must be traversed on foot in a path that is mandatory for all visitors, with no short-cuts. The bathrooms and cafeteria are near the entrance, when you don’t need them; and once you set out, there’s nowhere to sit down and take a break.
- The largest collection of antiquities in the world, including hundreds and hundreds of sculptures of adult male nudes. Rows of full-frontal nudes in all the exhibition spaces. Nudes in the hallways. Nudes in every nook and cranny that you are obliged (see #1) to pass by.
- Michangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel ceiling and altar wall, covered with both male and female nudes–although some of the more explicit nudes in his Last Judgment provoked such outcry when they were painted that they were later covered with drapes. (We can tell you all about it!)
Get the idea?
WHAT are these parents thinking? Why would anyone subject their 8-year-old to what in their childish eyes will be nothing more than a Renaissance-art death-march–thereby ensuring that they will hate museums, sculpture, and every Italian artist they ever encounter again for the rest of their lives? And why would anyone want to hire a college-professor tour guide to lecture the poor kid for at least four hours at the same time?
As if that’s not miserable enough, young girls have an even harder time of it, because they are naturally traumatized by the never-ending barrage of adult male genitalia that they are suddenly being forced to look at. This is why, when we’re asked to give tours of the Vatican Museums to families with young girls, our response is simple: no. It might not make business-sense to turn paying clients away, but we feel that your daughter’s innocence is of greater value than any amount of money you could pay us–and so we will not be involved in harming it.
A kid-friendly tour of the Vatican Museums? Good luck with that…