Boot Camp Alum Update: An Awesome #AdultFieldTrip

Julia Kennedy - Marketing & Aud Dev Associate

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Our Audience Development Boot Camp is all about teaching museum professionals how to look at their home institutions in new ways. Alums of the program are doing some extremely cool things at their own museums.

Lenora Henderson, the Curator/Director of Public Programming at Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, is one of those alums. She knew she needed think outside the box for new programming, so she decided to join us for Boot Camp.

For Lenora, and others that have attended our boot camp, the experience helped them see fresh, unexpected potential in their own sites.

Lenora went home to Buffalo and created the #adultfieldtrip – a real, irreverent, and interactive look at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site. The tour has helped to bring back an audience who hasn’t visited since studying local history in elementary school.

Tour attendees playing Tableau Vivant in the Inaugural Room

The best part about seeing the site in a new way? Tapping into all the stories you can’t tell to kids — and adults love it.

I knew that I wanted to think outside-the-box and do some “fun” programming . . . Boot Camp really helped me to see how that could happen in our historic house museum.  I love that the #adultfieldtrip enables us to tell fantastic stories that don’t fit on the regular tour.

For the #adultfieldtrip, some of those stories include bringing out the needle that was used to sew up president McKinley’s stomach, which usually spends its time in storage, or using a severed arm prop to introduce an otherwise unassuming political campaign pamphlet.

The needle used on President McKinley from TR Site

We usually think of activities and games for kids, but this tour doesn’t skip out on these just because it’s an adult tour.

Typically, visitors see the room where Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated from behind a barrier.  During the #adultfieldtrip, staff ushers participants into the room to recreate the scene based on a sketch of the event.

On a Museum Hack tour, we love doing this activity based on the Victorian party game, Tableau Vivant. It’s one thing to be in the room where it happened, but it’s a powerful experience to stand where Roosevelt stood when he took the oath of office. And participants love getting a photo souvenir of the reenactment to take home!

During Boot Camp weekend, attendees learn the ins and outs of tour game and activity design. Lenora pointed out one of her favorites that we taught was a game called “Buy-Return-Burn,” which really encouraged her to think about TR Site’s collection in a very different way.

Boot Camp is all about encouraging campers to dive fully into our style of tours. When they return home, they’re often not just revamping content, but changing the structure and style of their tours.

I really loved how Museum Hack tours were so high energy and kept the group moving from one space to another in a way that was almost designed to confuse people unfamiliar with the museum’s layout.  Even though we have a relatively small space to work with, I try to replicate that feel by using circuitous routes and stairways that are not part of the regular tour.

“You’ve Changed A Lot Since 4th Grade…So Have We!”

The public response to the #adultfieldtrip has been overwhelmingly positive. Lenora says one of the the best parts is hearing attendees talk at the end about how much fun they had and planning to stay at the site longer to keep the experience alive.

Our alums are shaking up their home organizations, and we love seeing what they come up with. Check out the Treat Yo Self tour and Cool Story Bro to see what other Boot Camp attendees are up to. 

Ready to pump up your programming with our personal development? Check out our Audience Engagement Boot Camp.

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