Historically, museums have overlooked teen audiences, focusing instead on educational and enrichment programs for adults and school aged children. This neglect has left many teens feeling unwelcomed and uninterested in visiting museums. The purpose of this post is to raise questions and awareness of the importance of welcoming teens into museums.
Teenagers- a group that can benefit the most from museums have an important role in our society. What they do, what they accomplish, and what they are exposed to, has every effect on not only your personal future, but also the future of our society as a whole. It is incredibly important to expose teens to meaningful museum programming. We know museums ensure understanding and appreciation for various groups and cultures. For this reason (especially into today’s political climate) we need to get teens involved in museums. So I ask you, what can be done to get teenagers engaged in museums independently? How can we make teenagers feel museums can also cater to them?
Luckily in recent years, museums have increasingly initiated teens into their programming. I have looked into what some museums are offering in teen programs and have found a robust amount of meaningful teen engagement practices. I want to highlight a few that I have found to be most notable.
Teens Take The Met!
The Metropolitan Museum hosts a dynamic free program that is targeted for teens only. Teens participating in this event partake in activities across the museum including art marking, performances, gallery activities for teens by teens, music, dancing and much more.
The Los Angeles County of Museum of Art offers a free youth membership to anyone 17 years and younger. As a NexGen member, teens can make the museum a regular part of their lives. Members are able to visit the museum for free at anytime and bring one guest for free general admission. NexGen members are even given a special membership card.
STAMP: Students At Museums in Philly
Museums in the great Philadelphia area previously hosted a collaborative teen event to debut a teen-crafted audio tour. Teens participated in a free scavenger hunt that took them through five different museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The scavenger hunt ended in front of the Barnes Museum, where a local hip-hop artist Chill Moody led then teens in a dance party.
What can we do as future museum educators?
I will conclude with returning to the questions I asked earlier; what can be done to get teenagers visiting museums independently? How can we make teenagers feel museums can cater to them as well? As future museum educators and advocates, we need to reflect on these questions. I will leave you with what I have found.
- Stop viewing teens as suspects! In order for teens to feel fully welcomed into museums they need to feel at home.
- Museums need to work with them, not away from them. I would advise Museums to use teen interns and view them as part of their staff. They know what other teens are interested in and for this reason museum should really listen to their ideas and opinions.
- Out with the old and in with the New! Social platforms like Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat are growing in influence among the teen demographic. Museums need to stay on top of their social media platforms and keep their marketing strategy for teens as fluid as possible.
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