People in our field are actively engaged in conversations about relevancy. Why? Because we need to rethink the way we do things. Many history museums, historical societies, and related institutions are struggling to survive, stand out from the crowd, and make meaningful connections with visitors. Part of the reason is that many of us have become stuck in our ways—not because we are lazy—we are far from that as a field—but because we are overwhelmed. We don’t spend enough time thinking about visitors’ needs and wants. We have not thought enough about how we need to change the way we do things to better relate to and engage current and potential visitors.
What can you do to create advocates for history and your organization? How do you rethink what you’ve done day in and day out (for years, or even decades!) with a fresh set of eyes? And how will you train staff to better focus on the needs of visitors? These are just a few of the things that we’ll discuss at Focusing on Visitors: Public Programming and Exhibits at History Institutions, a two-day workshop taking place on April 3 and 4, at the Governor John Langdon House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
We know it can be hard to justify taking time off or sending more than one staff member to participate in professional development opportunities, but whether you are a first-time museum educator, tour guide, volunteer manager, or mid-career professional, this workshop will be time worth spent.
Through interactive activities and case studies, you will learn more about audience types, volunteer management and training, tour techniques, active learning with people of all ages, developing exhibits with visitors in mind, technology, evaluations, planning, and working with others to create programs. Participants will have an opportunity to tackle some of their greatest challenges and concerns as they work with instructors and colleagues. Better focusing on visitors can transform your organization. Join us in Portsmouth to set the wheels in motion!
Alexandra Rasic is the Director of Public Programs at the Homestead Museum in City of Industry, CA. She also serves as co-faculty of this workshop with Tim Grove.