Thanks to the Family Learning Project (2004-2011), we at the USS Constitution Museum have experienced the powerful benefits of embracing family learning in exhibits. But, what about family engagement in programs? Our latest project, Engage Families, puts the family back in "family programs" to support the development of museum and library programs that engage children AND adults.
Families make up a vital constituency for museums and libraries, but few programs encourage children and their adult caretakers to learn and laugh together. Practitioners agree that there is a lack of understanding about how to move from "parent involvement" (helping) to "parent engagement" (interaction, learning). Understanding the needs of families in intergenerational programs, consciously meeting those needs, and fostering dialogue across ages supports the creation and sustainability of a nation of learners.
Through Engage Families, we will identify characteristics of family programming that result in active intergenerational engagement, enjoyment, and learning in museums and libraries. Supported by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), we will uncover the sufficient and necessary conditions for intergenerational engagement by creating a laboratory for experimentation to investigate ideas through an iterative process. As we learn, so will you, our museum and library colleagues. We'll be sharing practical and actionable strategies through print, conference sessions, professional development workshops, and online (including this redesigned and expanded version of www.familylearningforum.org).
Workshops & Conference Sessions
We're traveling around sharing tested techniques and successful strategies to engage families in programs at museums and libraries. Check back often to see where we'll be next. Can't make it to a workshop or session in person? Access archived presentations and videos through the links below.
- Putting the Family Back into "Family Programs", September 14-17, 2016, American Association for State and Local History, Detroit, MI.
- Engaging Everyone: Facilitating Multigenerational Programs, May 26-29, 2016, American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.
- Museum Education Panel: Engaging Families in Exhibits & Programs, April 27, 2016, Council of Maritime Museums Annual Conference, Wilmington, DE.
- Engage Families: Multigenerational Programming and Museum/Library Collaboration, May 5, 2016, Association of Children's Museums Annual Conference, Stepping Stones Children's Museum, Norwalk, CT.
- Putting the Family Back in "Family" Programs - November 2015, New England Museum Association Annual Conference, Portland, ME.
- Engage Families: Multigenerational Programming and Museum/Library Collaboration - October 2015, New England Library Association’s Annual Conference, Manchester, NH.
- Engage Families - Developing and Facilitating Intergenerational Programs in Museums and Libraries – March 25, 2015, USS Constitution Museum, Boston, MA.
- Engage Families: Looking at Intergenerational Programs in a New Light - March 2015, New England Region of the Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums’ Annual Conference, Mystic, CT and June 2015, Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums’ International Conference, Williamsburg, VA.
- All Hands on Deck! Family Learning in Exhibits and Programs - November 2014, Evening event at the USS Constitution Museum for the New England Museum Association’s Annual Conference.
- A Natural Affinity: Mutually Beneficial Museum and Library Partnerships – November 19, 2014, New England Museum Association Annual Conference, Boston, MA
- Supporting Family Learning: Emerging Research, Strategies, and Tools – October 05, 2014, Western Museum Association Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV
We've gathered an interdisciplinary team drawn from our Museum Learning, Curatorial, Exhibition, Library, and Administrative departments. Beyond our individual areas of specialty, we each make daily discoveries about the nature and characteristics of family engagement and learning. Contact current staff members (in bold) through our online contact form.
- Sarah Watkins, Vice President of Visitor Experience (Project Director)
- Lauren McCormack, Former Manager of Public Programs (Project Manager)
- Anne Grimes Rand, President
- Jackie Hibbard, CFO and Vice President of Operations
- Robert Kiihne, Director of Exhibits
- Jon Christensen, Creative Services Manager
- Jodie Smith, Manager of Academic and Group Programs
- Jennifer Zanolli, Manager of Interpretation and Visitor Services
- Gary Foreman, Manager of Gallery Operations
- Susan Reed, Group Reservations Coordinator
- Adriana Maksy, Former Engage Families Coordinator
- Sarah Fitzpatrick, Engage Families Coordinator
- Rebecca Crawford, Former Manager of Academic and Family Programs
- Museum Educators: Emily Anstey, Tracy Das, Michael Glicksman, Christopher Kauffman, Laura Meilman, Michelle O’Neil, Kerry Ruth, Chaz Saldi, Olivia Searcy, Lenny Somervell
- Interns and Volunteers: Libby Chafe, Maia Plantevin
Steering Committee Members & Consultants
- Marianna Adams, President, Audience Focus (Project Evaluator)
- Lynn D. Dierking, Sea Grant Professor in Free-Choice Learning, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR (previously Associate Director, Institute of Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD)
- Beverly K. Sheppard, Principal: BKS Consulting, Centreville, MD (previously President & CEO, Institute of Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD)
- Heather Nielsen, Head of Community and Family Programs. Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
- Maria Salvadore, Specialist and Consultant in Children’s Literature and Family Literacy, Washington, DC
- Shelley Quezada, Consultant, Library Services to the Underserved, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Boston, MA
- April Mazza, Advisor for Youth & School Library Services, Massachusetts Library System, Marlborough, MA
- Sarah Sogigian, Advisor for Youth Services, Massachusetts Library System, Marlborough, MA
- Jessica Snow, Youth Services Coordinator, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
- Kathy Rodriguez, Coordinator of Adult and Community Learning Services, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Malden, MA
- Beth Fredericks, Program Director, Museums/Libraries Project, Boston Children’s Museum
The Engage Families Project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [2013 National Leadership Grant MG-10-13-0074-13].