"The spirit of the theme park - queues, noise, spooky music - is upon me and, however hard I concentrate, I just can't shake it off." -- Rachel Cooke

History The Observer's Rachel Cooke visited the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at its Philadelphia stop off ahead of the appearance at the 02 Arena in London and experienced much the same problem I've had lately in pretty much all of the exhibitions I've been through:
"I go inside, hoping to escape the chaos; it's no better. A guard tells me that, this morning alone, they are expecting 500 schoolchildren. Is he exaggerating? No. A moment later the doors swing open and the first batch advances on us like a miniature army. These kids don't make my journey around the exhibition easy - especially since (pray that this trend never crosses the Atlantic) many of them have iPods with big microphones attached, into which they read aloud the notes that accompany the exhibits. It's maddening. So, too, is the sound from the headsets worn by those taking the audio tour, which is narrated by Omar Sharif - and the fact that each room has piped music: pan pipes when you're learning about Tutankhamun's wacky relatives; choral stuff once you're 'inside' his tomb."
Often there are so many people that it's impossible to see or enjoy the objects for the noise and the hustle and bustle. I know that visiting exhibitions is part of the educational journey, but just sometimes I wish that kids, tweenies and teenagers would pay attention to the art and not be automatically bored as soon as they walk in and start chatting about everything but where they and generally getting in the way. I remember really enjoying these things when I was at school and in some cases it changed my world view. What happened?

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