Here is a collection of simple, cheap, effective, tested techniques that have worked in other exhibitions and may be applicable in your museum – try it out! Making Work Fun Sampling chores from the past encourages visitors to compare/contrast to the present. Try a Board Game Games can highlight the role of chance within history, […]
From the initial brainstorming to the final product, experts in the fields of family learning and exhibit development offer hints and insights to help you maximize family engagement in your exhibits.
Abstract: “How and what adults learn in the context of a family visit to an aquarium is a valuable and important question to ask, given the significance of this demographic to institutions such as these. Based on a larger empirical work, this paper reports on the nature and character of adult learning within a family […]
Anne Grimes Rand, President of the USS Constitution Museum, outlines key achievements from the Family Learning Project – a long-term initiative at the USS Constitution Museum to engage a family audience through innovations in exhibit design. Filmed at the USS Constitution Museum’s workshop, Engage Families – Developing and Facilitating Intergenerational Programs in Museums and Libraries (March […]
Protoyping can be a valuable tool when designing exhibit elements for any audience. Here’s a quick overview of why you should incorporate prototyping into your exhibit design process and the dramatic impact it can have on your final product!
Have you ever wondered if children are learning in children’s museums or just being entertained? Researchers from Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and Harvard University’s Project Zero teamed up to study the question. Their results: “YES, children are really learning”. Nancy Haas, Project Explore Manager at Please Touch Museum, details findings from the multi-phase research project including thoughts […]
[See below for blog posts of examples and applicable strategies] In 2004, the USS Constitution Museum received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to launch the Family Learning Project to explore techniques to encourage family learning in history museum exhibits. We built a prototype exhibit called A Sailor’s Life for Me? to test effective, low-cost exhibit […]
Sailors ate in set groups of 8 to 10 men, called messes. The messes ate on the deck without tables or chairs. Messmates grew very close since they spent off duty time together every day. The food was very basic: salted meat, ship’s biscuit, and rice or peas. Fellow messmates served it on tin plates. […]
For years the USS Constitution Museum classroom programs included getting kids to try on reproduction sailor’s clothing. It was always popular and helped to communicate the nature of the physical world sailors experienced. It is a tactile experience and opens the door to questions of how sailors dealt with weather, washing, and even social structure. […]
Anne Grimes Rand, President of the USS Constitution Museum, outlines the efforts of the USS Constitution Museum to engage a family audience and gives a preview of future exhibit and programming projects.
We hoped families would use the crew cards throughout the exhibit and become invested enough in their crew card sailor to reference it throughout the exhibit.
Interns Molly, Sarah, and Julia prototyped The Sands of Time – an interactive exhibit element incorporating an authentic ship’s bell and a modern clock to demonstrate how sailors kept time at sea – in the All Hands on Deck exhibit over the summer of 2011. Will families be able to keep time like a sailor? Read on […]
Why should I use this technique? Rather than limiting the flow of information from museum to visitor, comment boards or books offer visitors an opportunity to share their thoughts and state their opinions. It moves an exhibition closer to a discussion rather than simply a presentation from an all-knowing authority.
Why should I use this technique? An exhibit is more likely to be effective if a variety of exhibit techniques address of range of visitor learning styles. Smelling the pine tar in the ship’s rigging or the salted cod carried in barrels creates a more vivid experience than simply reading about life at sea.
Why should I use this technique? Lift flaps are inexpensive to fabricate and they can carry a wide range of messages. Sometimes a lift flap adds an additional layer of information, sometimes it highlights an interesting anecdote or makes visitors consider a different perspective.
Why should I use this technique? Discoveries can trigger conversation and encourage visitors to slow down and take a closer look. Shifting scale or including a surprise can stop visitors for a moment and prompt them to share their discovery with another family member.
Why should I use this technique? A flipbook or questioning interactive is simple, cheap, engaging and effective. Families sit, smile and converse, laughing and learning together. It can be used to foreshadow exhibit elements, and it invites the audience to pause for a moment and consider the experience ahead.
Why should I use this technique? This can be a good summary exercise to help visitors review what they have experienced in the exhibition. It is an opportunity to sit and reflect, while encouraging conversation about the experience the family just shared.
Why should I use this technique? Full-body kinesthetic experiences are both an outlet for energy and a moment to pause and reflect on the similarities or differences between the past and the present.
Interns Molly, Sarah, and Julia prototype a game table for the Discovery Center with cards that address the complex results of the War of 1812 and allow families to sort out the effects on the people involved. Will this card game encourage critical thinking and spark conversations among family members? Read on to find out!
Interns Molly, Sarah, and Julia prototype a storyboard table for the Discovery Center that encourages families to draw the moment a sailor observed cannon balls bouncing off Constitution’s hull in the War of 1812. Will the storyboard inspire adults and children to create art together outside of a facilitated program? Read on to find out!