The USS Constitution Museum Team shares how focusing institution-wide on their family audience and serving their needs led to a more invigorated work environment.
Re-energize Your Staff and Organization
- Happier family visitors can translate to happier staff
- All aspects of museum operations contribute to the family experience
- Gather and share visitor feedback
- Celebrate successes staff-wide
Happier family visitors can translate to happier staff
In successful family galleries, both children and adults can take a leadership role in activities. When everyone finds ways to participate, each person has something to discuss with the rest of the family. A museum professional walking into a gallery where visitors are actively engaged in an exhibit, discussing the topic or trying their hand at an interactive, can be an exciting experience which re-energizes staff, volunteers and trustees.
All aspects of museum services contribute to the family experience
Every museum employee can contribute to a family learning initiative. From the front line staff who offer a warm welcome and orientation, to the maintenance staff who keeps restrooms stocked for all sorts of emergencies, museums can present a welcoming (or off-putting) image to families. Consider:
- Does your website help families to structure a successful visit?
- Do facilities and exhibits appear clean, well maintained and germ free?
- Are exhibits comfortable for the tall and the small?
- Does the museum provide facilities for changing babies, parking strollers or eating a snack?
- Do staff know where to direct a nursing mother?
- Does the gift shop have books, games and toys for all ages?
- Do programs and promotions invite visitors young and old to participate?
- Do pre- and post-visit activities extend the learning beyond the time in the museum?
Gather and share visitor feedback
All staff work to create a welcoming museum, and all staff should share in the success. Satisfied visitors often want to share their experience. Encourage staff who have daily contact with visitors to write down memorable comments (both pro and con) and distribute them. At the USS Constitution Museum we circulate staff meeting notes weekly, and front line staff contribute the best “Quotes of the Week.”
Visitor feedback can also inform exhibit development and ideas. A post it station asking leading questions can elicit interesting responses from visitors. At the USSCM battle theater we ask, “How did this presentation change your view of battle in the age of sail?” Many people offer thoughtful reflections on the topic; some offer general commentary on their experience in the museum (and some like to practice writing dirty words). Share the comments with your staff, and keep an eye out for comments that can help in future funding proposals.
A few of the favorites at our museum are:
- “This was the bestest show I have ever seen in my life!”
- “Seriously it was way better than Disney.”
- “It changed the way I looked at things. This was amazing.”
- “I thought history was always boring but now I love it.”
Celebrate successes staff-wide
Sharing positive feedback from visitors is an opportunity to recognize staff-wide efforts to create a welcoming, engaging and educational experience. At our museum these gatherings often include cake or ice cream sundaes. Coming to work each day can be more enjoyable (even in the finance, maintenance or marketing department) when staff see the positive results of their efforts, and see visitors sharing their enthusiasm for the museum.