chapter  3
Experts, Evaluators, and Explorers: Collaborating with Kids
By• Anne Grimes Rand and Robert Kiihne |
Pages 18

This approach is easier said than done. Some history museums that seek to cultivate a family audience may not yet have kids and their parents strolling in the galleries, whereas others seek to enhance service to an audience that is already present. History museums can learn how to reach out to kids by talking to and learning from them. Kids are happy to share their opinions and ideas, if asked, and they are everywhere-in nearby schools, in after-school park programs, and some may already be inside your museum. And other museums, versed in working with kids, can provide insight, guidance, and proven strategies for initiating and sustaining collaborations with kids. There are three main advantages of developing an ongoing working relationship with kids as a way to figure out how to attract and engage them. The first is that kids are experts at being kids. Like a content expert hired to provide background for an exhibition, kids can help guide decision making so projects appeal to them and anticipate their skills and needs. The second advantage is that kids become a regular, on-call evaluation cohort for the development not only of your current work but also of future projects. They can serve as test subjects for ideas that the museum is considering or a mock up of an evolving activity, always leading project teams to better decisions. Finally, having kids around the museum, working and sharing their humor and curiosity with museum staff, can ground project teams in the ways of being and thinking like a kid and help to prepare the entire museum for what it will mean to be family friendly.