I was already excited that our third day in Washington was going to be spent at the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian, but both institutions completely blew me away with their thoughtful design, amazing collections, and engaging programs. While it was easy to be swept up in the incredible visual experience of the museums, it was even more special to gain insights into what makes them iconic destinations that are so easily recognizable.
In speaking with two museum educators and two museum media specialists today, I was able to get a better understanding of how the two departments work together to create an experience that goes far beyond the walls of the institution. Museum presence on the Web or on mobile technology can be so vital to teachers, and that point will really stick with me as it is sometimes discouraging when we don’t see immediate returns on the work we’re doing. If it’s out there and accessible, it is likely making a difference.
Another key take away of mine from today’s visits is that we don’t have to try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating programming. Ann Caspari (NASM) explained some of her educational programming techniques in which she uses PowerPoint presentations to enhance story time activities for children. I love this idea and I think something like this would be a good fit at my museum, where we do occasionally host story time for various age groups.
I genuinely had a fantastic experience getting to see the processes used by professionals in two of my favorite institutions, one that will resonate with me for a long time to come.
On a museum geek (and just geek in general) note, seeing the USS Enterprise on display at the NASM is literally one of the highlights of my life.