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Chime In: Museum Education in History Museums

by Alexandra Rasic, Homestead Museum on

The Educators and Interpreters Committee occasionally receives questions from the field at large that we feel should go out to a bigger pool of practitioners to answer. As a result, we’ve created a new occasional blog post called “Chime In.” If questions resonate with you, or you have a strong opinion, we encourage you (yes, you!) to share your thoughts.

Here are a couple of questions to get us started:

I’m curious to learn more about who is shaking things up in museum ed, especially in history museums. Any new practitioners out there? Any amazing, adventurous museum ed programs/departments that you’re hearing about?

What is museum education in a history museum…public programs, school programs, teacher professional development, interpreter training, evaluation, distance learning, outreach, school field trips…. Is that the state of the art?

Committee members Christopher Grisham, from the Tennessee State Museum, and Megan Wood, from the Ohio History Connection chimed in.

Megan: Here are some things in the field I admire:

– I love the “You are theres” at the Indiana Historical Society- great stuff 
– I honestly really dig the museum theater that the Fraizer in Louisville, KY, is doing. I was impressed with what they put out with their staff size.
– Crystal Bridges (while not history) seems to be doing pretty amazing things. They’ve got a distance learning program (and obviously resources), but I’ve been impressed with all the staff I’ve met there.
– I would be remiss not to mention Lincoln’s Cottage’s programs. They’re pretty awesome and impactful.
– I also think the Missouri History Museum is doing a great job of connecting to their community.
 
You Are There

Historic photographs come to life as part of the Indiana Historical Society’s “You Are There” experience.

 

Christopher: We are currently in the early stages of building a new museum that will require us to restructure and expand our staff. As of now, we have a education/public programs department that works with school groups on various programs. We have been discussing what we envision our new staff to look like. Personally I want an education department that continues very much like we do now with a separate public programs (Community Engagement) staff that handles weekly events for families and adults. I would also love to have one or two staff members that would be mobile and constantly out at various schools and groups.
 
Now let’s hear from you out there! Toot your own horn, send a shout out to an organization or individual who you think is doing something special—and share your thoughts on what constitutes museum education in a history museum right here, or via email to members of Educators & Interpreters committee. Thank you!

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