Sometimes two days away from your normal routine can help generate fresh ideas and reinvigorate the mind. If those two days are spent with history professionals from a variety of organizations, all gathered for the same reason, the result can lead to great new contacts and a network of colleagues struggling with the same issues. They might help you look at challenges in a whole new way. They might even help you solve a problem or create a brilliant new program. The upcoming workshop Focusing on Visitors: Public Programming and Exhibits at History Institutions, taking place April 3 and 4 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a great opportunity to get away and take a look at some of the many strategies for reaching different audiences.
Five seasoned museum educators, including me, wrote a book several years ago titled The Museum Educator’s Manual: Educators Share Successful Techniques. Our goal was to produce a practical reference that could serve staff at many types of institutions. We had accumulated many tips over the years and wanted to share them with the field. I wrote a chapter about the role of educators on exhibition teams. How can educators contribute to making exhibitions more active experiences that will engage a greater number of visitors and address their various learning styles? I have seen first-hand that cultivating a mindset that places emphasis on visitors needs and learning styles can result in a more powerful and accessible product.
Creating an active learning environment, whether an exhibition, program or tour, takes effort. It requires the recognition that visitors learn in many different ways and that their motivations for a visit can be very different. We will talk about various approaches to engaging multiple audiences. No matter how many visitors come through your doors each year, if you don’t give them a reason to return, they won’t. Join us in Portsmouth for an exciting exchange of ideas.
Tim Grove is Chief of Museum Learning at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington,D.C. and co-author of The Museum Educator’s Manual: Educators Share Successful Techniques. He serves as co-faculty of this workshop with Alexandra Rasic. See more at http://resource.aaslh.org/view/focusing-on-visitors-public-programming-and-exhibits-at-history-institutions-2/
Read a blog post Tim wrote about a visit to Portsmouth. http://historyplaces.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/house-history-in-new-hampshire/