War museum was a real party-pooper

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National Museum of Military History

INLSA

Liesel Grimbeek and her son Zach(8), the mother had booking at Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold for her son's birthday party and cancelled ten days before the birthday because children are no longer allowed. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Unruly behaviour led to children being temporarily banned from the National Museum of Military History, but now it says children are welcome - but should behave themselves.

“No children allowed” was the message a Joburg mother received from the museum two weeks after booking her son’s birthday party at the venue.

Liesel Grimbeek said she booked her son Zach’s eighth birthday party at the formally named Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold, next to Johannesburg Zoo, in June.

The booking was made for July 28. However, she said the museum cancelled the arrangement two weeks before the date, and told her that children were not wanted as they damaged the displays and because it was a national heritage site.

She said she was told this by the director of the museum and his personal assistant.

Later, the museum did an about-turn and called it all a misunderstanding. The director’s assistant phoned her, said they apologised for the confusion, and that Zach was welcome to have his party there.

Although she was grateful for the apology, Grimbeek said she had already made another plan for her son’s party and did not want to change the plan again.

When The Star called the museum, staff member Selinah Heierli said that because of the outcry, they had decided to take children’s birthday party bookings, but that children had to be carefully monitored by their parents.

“Parents sit outside while their children run around the museum,” she said. “No child must come into the museum without an adult.”

Grimbeek initially phoned the museum on May 20 to ask if it allowed parties there, and was informed that it did. She then went to the museum with her son on May 28 and again asked staff if this was possible, and was told it was allowed.

She also spoke to an employee of the museum’s restaurant, who told her they offered parties for children.

On June 1, Grimbeek paid a deposit, and was told that she should pay for the museum entrance, food and drinks separately on the day. She then received a phone call from the restaurant, saying the party had to be cancelled as the director no longer wanted children at the museum.

The director allegedly told her that she should take her son to the zoo.

On her first visit to enquire about parties, Grimbeek said she saw signs around some of the tanks near the restaurant, which stated that children were allowed to play on the displays. - The Star

brendan.roane@inl.co.za, theresa.taylor@inl.co.za


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