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Friday, April 25, 2014

Planning for Family Programs—Project Update: teen and family focus groups tell us what they like to do at museums

We are now past the third phase of our work with consultant Linda Norris in re-evaluating our program offerings for family audiences. The first phase was asking our stake holders to share their ideas. This past winter we met with staff members and docents and had them define family audiences. Norris wrote a terrific summery of the workshops on her blog, The Uncataloged Museum. In the workshop staff and docents worked in teams to create innovative ideas for programs specifically for teen, early learner, and family audiences.

After learning from our internal group we looked outside our institution. Throughout the month of February we collected statistics and information from local and national museums and      libraries on their offerings and successes in working with family audiences.  In particular we noted program costs, timing and repetition of programs, early learner and teen programs, as well as innovative festivals and exhibitions.   

The third step was to ask our intended audience, “what do you want from the Rosenbach?”

On April 8, eleven teens from local high schools and junior high schools met with us to talk about what they like to do at museums, when do they visit, and what are some of their favorite experiences. One teen noted, “When you actually interact with things the experience is more real.” another “I want to be a curator; I want to be behind the scenes and learning about my neighborhood.” We asked them to consider a list of possible programs which we might   offer at the Rosenbach such as creative writing workshops, or a mood-ring  application for your smartphone which would list novels and literary characters which “match” your mood. Some  of the teens offered up their own ideas, “I thought of an idea, because I like writing and poetry based on a character in a book. You would have to have a sort of reading group and then write poetry or lyrics.”

On April 13, we took to the streets with clipboards and asked local families in the park to tell us about their wants and needs. The feedback was surprising and informative! One family with a 3 year old shared that “quiet places aren’t good” and another with a 5 year old said “we like if we (husband and wife) can also talk but 85% of the time we choose a program we think our son would like.“

Up next...program prototyping! This summer and into the early fall we will test out some of these ideas.

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