Engaging the youngsters and then some

Ann Caspari and Jenny (I hope I’m remembering that right) from the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and Dan Davis and Ed from the National Museum of American Indian (NMAI) all gave interesting informative talks about engaging the visitor, especially younger audiences.

I have not been to involved with museum education so far in my museum path, so it was a little bit of a shock to see how much goes into planning storytime with 2-8 year olds. It really is all in the details: toys, crafts, subject matter, exhibition space, monitors off vs. on, and skipping sensitive material. Ann had great methods for keeping the children’s attention, and it was neat to see how she could take their attention from the pages of the book to the actual objects. The “active learning labels” were also great additions to the objects. I was especially interested to hear how the museum changed to include stories first as well as add a bit of human connection with personal stories. The app was probably my favorite thing about the museum. I really thought I would dislike it, but after playing with the features it really grew on me.

Dan David and Ed also had some really great ideas to reach young audiences. I found it interesting how they used YouTube to see what kinds of media kids were watching. The introduction video they made for Native Knowledge 360 was entertaining, intelligent, informative, with the right amount of humor. I can picture my 12-year-old niece watching that video, it really looks and sounds like the types of videos she picks out on her own.

Some other quick things that stuck out from today:

The NASM’s team approach to exhibition design.

NASM being inclusive to children, but not exclusive (the exhibitions do not look or feel like a pre-school playroom).

Finding “nuggets of information”

“Why should I care?”

Sometimes museums have to be aware that people may not only have no knowledge of the subject but the wrong knowledge, and that can be difficult.



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