The series of design strategies described on this page constitute a robust, yet flexible set of guidelines that produce family engagement and learning in exhibits and programs. Together the nine strategies constitute conditions necessary to support active participation and enjoyment for all ages. Whether developing a brand new experience for families or revamping an existing one, use these design strategies as your guide.
These strategies are backed by extensive research and testing. Seven of the characteristics (Multi-User, Multi-Sided, Multi-Modal, Multi-Outcome, Relevant, and Accessible) were identified by the Philadelphia-Camden Informal Science Education Collaborative (PISEC) through a National Science Foundation research study on the characteristics of family-friendly exhibits in informal science learning environments.
The USS Constitution Museum conducted extensive testing of the PISEC findings in its own exhibits and programs through an Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded National Leadership grant. The USS Constitution Museum’s study further identified the principles of Encourage Conversation, Authentic and Distinctive, and Fun and Play.
To learn more about the PISEC study, visit the Franklin Institute’s Museum Learning Research page.
Museums and libraries are doing great work engaging families through programming. How do they do it? Explore these examples from the field and try some techniques at your site!