My primary focus as an intern this summer was to research and design outreach programs. At the beginning of the summer, I chose from a list of around fifteen programs that the museum had been looking at developing and implementing. We were instructed to choose one or two that seemed interesting and work on making those into functional plans the museum could use in the future. The idea I chose was to create a new engaging and interactive tour, based on the company Museum Hack. For this tour, I was tasked with developing an hour long experience that would appeal to visitors looking to have fun, but still allow them to learn about history.
This project proved to be the most challenging part of my experience as an intern. It required greater skills and specific knowledge than anything else I worked on. Coming up with the actual activities and games wasn’t exceedingly challenging, since I have lots of prior experience planning and working at Girl Scout camps and outreach events through the Kennesaw State University anthropology club. The difficult part of the program design was the fact that I needed lots of background information about certain topics, that I just did not possess. So for most of the educational content, I had to research using a variety of resources, including our archives and online newspapers.
However, all this hard work paid off. The museum will be able to implement this program in the coming weeks and months. All the planning is done- the itinerary is set and the materials are gathered. The program is essentially five separate activities that center around a theme, yet touch on different smaller topics. The overarching theme that connects the whole program is media’s ability to dictate how the public perceives information, specifically relating to how they look at heroes and past local events.
Throughout the program, participants will play different fun games that get them interacting and keep them on their toes. Through these, they will look at how the media affects how they perceive men like lifeguards, Coast Guard personnel, and other key figures in our museum. They will also examine how tv and movies have shaped their views about historical events.
Creating this tour was similar in some ways to what I have learned throughout my college experience, yet also very different. In addition to academic skills like researching and writing, I also had to be unendingly creative and resourceful, which cannot necessarily be taught in a class. I actually had to resubmit my proposal and rework my main theme several times because it was too dry and wasn’t hitting the main point of why we were making this program – for people to have fun!
Over time, I learned to broaden my understanding of what a museum is and what it can provide the public. In the end, this program can simply be an hour of fun and games, but it can also be an incredible learning experience.