@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Kids in Museums Family Fortune Workshop @KidsinMuseums #FFW2011

    December 4th, 2011mardixonCulture
    Every year, the Kids in Museums creates a 20 point Manifesto to guide museums in their quest to becoming a Kid friendly museum.  In 2010, families told Kids in Museum they were struggling to get a family ticket to museums and attractions – because their family didn’t fit the standard 2 adult/ 2 children format.  This lead to Kids in Museums creating the Family Ticket Watch Project which museums were excited to take part, but just didn’t know where to start.

    As a result, Family Fortune workshop was launched – a workshop where delegates had a chance to hear colleagues in the industry provide best practices ideas and strategies and for everyone to learn from each other.

    I live-tweeted the day which can be found here but I wanted to highlight some key points that were made.

    Dea Birkett enthusiastically kicked the workshop up with an overview of why everyone was there and reminding everyone that Kids should be at the heart of the decisions.  Remember your Museum Moment?  That Gestalt moment when you had that spark which started your passion for museum.  That is the moment she wants everyone to try to keep at heart in their work.

    Then there were  5 minutes blasts:

    Family and Parenting Institute

    • Traditional family is a bit dated (2.5 kids etc). Shape of family has changed. Smaller family  that are more horizontal.
    • Trends to Watch – demographic. Rise of gays families & step-families. Rapid rise in single parent. Delayed transition out of home. 1 in 3 families rely on grandparents helping today.

    British Museum

    • Created a Family Strategy Working Group with key areas of the museums. First strategy 2009 after signing up to the Manifesto (which doesn’t sound like much but REALLY did make a huge impact). After pledging to the Manifesto, they went about tackling the issues listed. Secured funding to ensure family activities every weekend.
    • Introduced activities for older kids 13-16. Scrapped family ticket!! 60% of families that now know kids being free will come to exhibition.
    • Still want to do more research for families. Work to do with signage, baby changing facilities, etc.

    Jewish Museum London –

    • Showing artifacts used with learning program.
    • Introduced kid friendly caption (easier to read and colour used). Always a discussion.
    • Messy play w under 5 starts at one exhibition with sing song and moves to another exhibition – always relevant.

    National Trust –

    • Family volunteering 2-way process. Trust, getting things done. Reciprocal w/ family getting skills & inter generational experience
    • Family volunteering allows them to develop skills, obtain access to a place, sense of achievement, chance to bond & work together.
    • Family Parenting Institute (different speaker)
    • Museums are ahead of the curve with some family friendly society in some examples. Recognising diverse families.

    Oxford Uni Museum & Pitt Rivers Museum –

    • Constrained by Architecture (grade 1 listing). Having the name University museum makes people assume it is just for University students (NOT TRUE)
    • Pros: specimens rich display, wow factor!, low tech interactivity through access, FREE.
    • Nominated themselves for #FFMAward but was unsuccessful. Then went back and worked on family program on a low budget (using the Manifesto for guidance)
    • All items aren’t always achievable but can be looked at. Family friendly Sunday was possible for them.
    • Family friendly ethos – changing attitudes if needed. Front of house and #musvolunteer vital part of visitor experience
    • Had issue of parents letting kids run so they devised: Stay together – Have fun together – Learn together

    CultureLabel –

    • David Gilbert @culturelabel Flexible family ticket fundamental question: understanding pricing is price is fundamental.
    • Purpose of getting price right is bigger audience equals more revenue.
    • Mistake is audience doesn’t know what you’re doing re pricing. Simplicity is key!
    • Care about customers even when they are not up within your four walls – virtual engagement! (YES)

    Turner Contemporary –

    • Karen Eslea Head of Learning from Turner Contemporary. Before gallery opening was in contact with 6000 people.
    • Having all team members try out activities first.
    • Train teenager and are recruiting more. Youth Navigators – which is accredited

    Visit England –

    • Staycation is more important than ever! Museum will be impacting.
    • Nostalgia is key word. What you market for family isn’t not the same as what you market for friends. Needs different.
    • Signage needs to be clear and calm. Families arriving are usually exhausted just from travelling (tube). Toilets!
    • Value for money – perceived value for money. If you haven’t got v nice toilets/facilities you need to share with visitors.
    • 5.8 million grandparents provide minimum of 10 hours child are each week! Often at least 3 generations in one family group.

    Kids in Museums –

    2/3 said family ticket didn’t fit their needs. Age: 1 in 10 visitor said their kids didn’t fit.

    Teenagers sometimes gets turned away as they don’t fit into ‘family ticket’. Not all tickets flexible enough.

    Extended family and friends were not considered in family ticket either.

    Everyone was then put into groups and asked to devise three Key points they felt most relevant.

    • Be your own good advocate!
    • Empowering children. Making the children the experts of the activities
    • Return on investment, gross margins, lifetime valued customer. Needs to be transparent and clear.
    • Use your contacts to grow your audience! Don’t be afraid to ask. (Your volunteers might have skills you can use.)
    • Positive language! Say what you CAN do not can’t do
    • Teenagers – create a space for them
    • Be regular: every Saturday at 2 or same slot for families so they always know and do not have to call.
    • Keep your website updated! Use social media to notify of changes – engage with customers.
    • Teenagers: activities broadcast on Facebook. Events too.
    • Think about charges – families don’t mind paying but only when fair
    • Interpretation – using more than just words; symbols, colors, etc can be used.
    • Using and training #musvolunteer (see @CultureThemes :-)) Giving visitors confidence. Helps provide flexible times for tours.
    • Using space wisely. Getting upper management to support it but don’t apologize. Use other museum success for examples.
    • Is your children activity floor based? Don’t forget children in wheel chairs or the elderly grandparent that can’t get on floor.
    • Have teenagers take people  around – giving up some control.
    • Being flexible – Jewish/non Jewish families can learn from each other. Don’t use scripts!
    • Ask ALL departments for different opportunities with #musvolunteer
    • Partnerships – reaching audience via running competition with partnership that is related to your ethos.
    • Media partnership is very easy for local museum – simple way to get your name out there and they love getting involved too.
    • Playing to your strength. Also let staff and #musvolunteer make easy to read labels (ala Waterstones recommendations)

    Smithsonian also added input: Tactile labels. Steps near cases. Repro objects for touching. Kid-friendly ed videos. Fewer words, more doing.

    As you can see, it was an amazing workshop with brilliant practical and creative ideas.  Do you have any examples or ideas you can share?

    Kids in Museums on Twitter

    Kids in Museums LinkedIn page

    Kids in Museums Facebook page


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