The Time Traveler’s Tour is specifically designed for families with children ages 4-11. This tour follows the same route as the introductory tour, but utilizes a sticker activity book and has a portion that can be done outside when the weather is favorable. This tour is essentially for the children in the family, although the content should be interesting to the family as a whole. The sticker activity book also includes activities to do during the rest of their visit at Winterthur, as well as some take-home activities. Staff members encourage families to continue the experience by returning their book to Winterthur once it is completed. In doing so, families will receive a Winterthur patch and certificate. This seems to be a good way to encourage them to really utilize all the book has to offer.
The content of the tour is focused on the family who use to call Winterthur home, Henry Francis du Pont along with his wife and two daughters. The program is designed to give an introduction about the family who once lived at Winterthur and highlight the estate as a place where real people lived. It provides a sense of what a large country estate once was and how people lived, worked, socialized, and played here.
The goal with this tour is to engage the entire family. Rather than give each child their own individual book, staff members provide one per family (unless there are several kids). This requires the different family members to take on different roles: one is the book holder, one is the sticker holder, one is the sticker placer, etc. Staff members also want families to continue engaging through the additional activities in the book that they can use in different locations on site (galleries, garden, etc.) and at home.
A lot of prototyping went into the current iteration of the tour. This tour was originally created in the early 2000s with a photo album style rather than the current spiral bound book. The original method worked fine for the tour but it did not offer any way to continue learning and exploring after the tour was completed. From a design perspective, staff wanted the activity book to be sturdy enough that it wouldn’t flop around while visitors were adding stickers to it during the tour. Staff also needed to have stickers professionally made so that they were all on one sheet rather than individual stickers that staff had to print themselves. Before having the current books professionally printed, an intern in the education department designed a prototype that staff could print in-house and a survey for the guides to complete after the tour. This lead to the current development of a professionally printed spiral bound book with a sticker sheet. Prototyping was a great way to figure out what worked best, but looking back, staff members wish they talked with the Museum’s marketing/PR team first to see what would be needed for the end product of publication. Staff members had to do some backtracking to find better quality images and other things that took time and effort that they could have done in the beginning. A suggestion would be to think through your end product and see what would be needed before getting started with prototyping. Training the tour guides is also essential. Some of the Museum’s guides were not used to working with children, so giving them some pointers was helpful.
Special thanks to Megan Millman, Program Assistant at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library http://www.winterthur.org/