Boot Camp Alum Update: Treat Yo Self Tour

Julia Kennedy - Marketing & Aud Dev Associate

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Angela May is a Docent and Tour Coordinator at Birmingham Museum of Art and was the first to admit that she was totally out of her element at our Boot Camp for museum professionals.

Our Audience Development Boot Camp is an intense three-day weekend where you become a “Hacker in Training,” learning how to:

  • Structure tours with activities, pacing, and varied types of pieces to engage, and re-engage, audiences.
  • Utilize scaffolding and language to fight “museum fatigue” and invite visitors to share their thoughts and feelings in an open and non-threatening environment.
  • Develop 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.
Hackers in Training learning about audience engagement and how to structure a tour.

To top it off? By the end of the weekend, our hackers in training present their own tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Through the process, boot campers are encouraged to take these skills and think about translating them in their own institution.

Because of this, Angela looked at her own museum in new ways and drew inspiration from the idea of ‘Treat Yo Self,’ which appears in a wide variety of works in Birmingham’s collection.

“Everyone throughout time and space treats themselves. It’s something we all do.” – Angela May

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

On October 13, 2011 the NBC series ‘Parks and Recreation’ introduced a beautiful concept to the world, ‘Treat Yo Self.’ The idea is that at least once a year, we should all go ahead and splurge on something awesome for ourselves. When Angela was thinking about a common theme to find in all different galleries and areas, she realized this idea could be found in all of them.

Angela used this central theme to pick apart this concept and ideas centered around luxury to bring in deep questions and dialogue about representation, wealth, and status. To help engage visitors and promote conversations, Angela uses games on the tour such as ‘Count the Pugs,’ or asking what item in a gallery would you keep.

“Les Portraits de MM. De Béthune Jouant avec un Chien” (Children of the Marquis de Béthune Playing with a Dog), 1761, François Hubery Drouais.

The Treat Yo Self tour runs at the museum’s ‘Art After 5’ series, which takes place on the first Friday of the month during the evening. For one particular tour during Members Shopping Week, the tour ended at a market held at the museum where post-tour goers decided to take some advice from the stories they heard and treat themselves to some shopping.

As far as boot camp is concerned, Angela says:

“It absolutely works.”

Do you want to pump up your professional development? Find more information on our boot camps for museum professionals here.

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