Full Report: Museum Hack’s April 2016 Boot Camp

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Museum Hack News May 16, 2016 Featured Image

Museum Hack strives to translate our success as a museum tour provider into strategies and techniques that can help all museums better engage with visitors and showcase their amazing collections.  We know that the key to successfully creating long-term relationships with visitors isn’t just in the pieces on display or the stories they tell – but in the way that museum staff communicate those stories to visitors.

As crafters of unforgettable museum experiences, our Hackers know that people come first.  Every tour and event that we hold for the public centers around one core mission: to give our guests an amazing experience.  We do this by combining personal passion, storytelling prowess, and a constant vigilance on customer service into museum adventures.

Recently, we started offering these skills as intensive training sessions for museum professionals.  During our three-day Boot Camps, we bring museum pros from around the world together to develop new skills while uncovering the hidden, crazy stories of some of the greatest museums on earth.  Participants work side-by-side with our new Hackers-in-Training, learning the secrets of highly interactive audience engagement while brainstorming how to integrate storytelling, mobile technology, and personal passion into their museum’s core offerings.

Read on to find out all the amazing things that occurred during the April cohort of our Boot Camp.

Boot Campers and Dustin in front of the pharoah statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Hackers-in-Training and Dustin ready to kick off an awesome weekend.

Our second Boot Camp kicked off on April 22, 2016.  We welcomed attendees from across the world to their three-day intensive training in New York City, home to some of the most amazing museums in the world.

The first stop for our Hackers-in-Training was the American Museum of Natural History.  After a round of fun introductions, we took them on our whirlwind tour of this amazing science and natural history museum.  They saw our principles in action, in the same manner that our public guests experience them.  This kicked off our “outside-in” approach, helping them to experience museums as guests rather than insiders — which is key to understanding how to craft memorable museum experiences.

Boot Campers with a T-Rex at the American Museum of Natural History

Next, we introduced attendees to our core method: the 5 Elements of a Hack.  This framework helps us create engaging, successful narratives that make museums and their collections come to life.  We reviewed the elements immediately after the AMNH tour, allowing attendees to discuss how what they saw on tour was a product of our signature method.

It was time to head into the big city as we traveled across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But first – a quick break for team building in the park:

Boot Camp attendees doing team building in Central Park

Here, we split attendees into small groups that we call “squads.”  Each squad was led by one of our VIP Guides, ensuring that attendees received one-on-one interaction and the chance to develop their skills while bonding with fellow museum professionals.  These squads were given a task: by the end of the weekend, each squad was to develop and present their own Museum Hack-style tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

After some fun team building and time for dinner, our attendees ended their first day with one of our most popular tours: the VIP Night Tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This tour is our premiere museum experience, uncovering the secrets, backstories, and hidden nooks and crannies of one of the greatest museums on Earth.  It was a chance for attendees to experience Museum Hack principles in action, see our methods at work in an up close and personal way, and experience one of the world’s greatest museums as never before.  Afterwards, attendees were invited to meet more of our staff at one of our favorite late-night spots, with drinks and lots of talk about why museums are f***ing awesome.

Boot Camp attendees pose with a bear statute in the American Wing of the Met

The next morning, our Hackers-in-Training gathered at the iconic Pharaoh Statue in the Great Hall of the Met to begin a series of classes that delved deep into our Hack methodology.  This condensed version of our months-long training program discussed:

  • How to structure tours with activities, pacing, and varied types of pieces to engage, and re-engage, audiences.
  • Utilizing scaffolding and language to fight “museum fatigue” and invite visitors to share their thoughts and feelings in an open and non-threatening environment.
  • Developing exploratory games and activities that give visitors fun missions, connect them with objects on display, and get them discussing their finds with each other – and through the use of technology.

After a full day of training, it was time for some fun.  Our squads were set loose to discover the secrets of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Assisted by their coaches, attendees identified, brainstormed, and created their own object hacks and activities based on their personal passions.

Team buildling in front of the Temple of Dendur

On Sunday morning, each squad was ready to reveal their Hack-style tour. In the morning, they tested their tours with fellow attendees and Museum Hack staff.  After some last-minute revisions, our Hackers were ready for their final challenge.  On a special tour of the Met, each attendee presented their object hacks and activities to a special group of our public tour beta testers. Check out these photos of the Hackers-in-Training in action:

Boot Camp attendee presents hacked object during tour

Boot Camp attendee presents hacked object during tour

Boot Camp attendee presents hacked object during tour

Boot Camp attendee presents hacked object during tour

Afterwards, the Hackers-in-Training gathered for feedback sessions with their squad leaders and, later, our senior staff members.  As we prepared to say goodbye, we discussed key takeaways that would allow each new Hacker to go home ready to immediately put their new skills into practice.

“All of the staff members at Museum Hack were incredibly open and honest about the challenges they face and how they are constantly trying to improve their visitor experience. I felt like a colleague, not an attendee. The personalized attention was unlike any other professional development training I have ever received. I cannot speak highly enough of the professionalism and knowledge of the staff. My favorite part of bootcamp was working one on one with our squad leader to develop my specific segment of the tour. Ethan really helped me see how I present myself in a new light. His comments were dead on and helped me develop a much better narrative. I laughed, I cried, I hacked a museum.” – Emily L.

We had an amazing time hosting the April cohort of our Boot Camp!  We loved meeting museum professionals from around the world and helping advance the vision of the museum of the future as an engaging, educational, and entertaining space for all visitors. 

Best of all? We’re hosting more group Boot Camps!  Join us in July or November of 2016 – or March of 2017 – to upgrade your museum career with our Hack-style skills and techniques for engaging audiences, network with fellow museum professionals, and discover some of the greatest museums in the world.  Tickets are limited – reserve yours now!

Eventbrite - Museum Hack Boot Camps in NYC 2016 & 2017

written with 💖 by Museum Hack

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