Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chicago Children's Museum- 4 hours of observation

My last observation hours have actually been taking place over the course of the semester. I started to volunteer at the Children's Museum to enhance my knowledge of diversity programs taking place at the museum specifically, Play For All. Play For All is a program for families who have a child with a disability. The museum opens an hour early once a month and families can enjoy the museum for free in a quieter environment. In the beginning of my volunteering, I thought that families might not want a separate program just for them. Wouldn't they just want to be seen as normal? What I realized however was that for families to feel like they are a part of the museum, they must first have a quieter time to integrate into the museum settings, allowing them to feel more comfortable with the space.

The museum makes an effort to be democratic in creating new programs for special families. Instead of implementing them based on what the museum wants, they plan focus groups with community members and outside professionals to find out what the VISITOR wants. An example of this happening is when the museum was working on the All Families Matter initiative. The museum wanted to hold a program similar to Play For All but just for LGBTQ families. Through a series of meetings with LGBTQ families in the community, the museum discovered that the families don't want a separate event. They would rather feel like their a part of the museum, not separated.

Chicago Children's Museum is a great example of how museums can cross departments and work together to create what is best for the visitor rather than solely creating programs that are in the best interest of the museum.

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