Preparing the Next Generation of Museum Professionals for Success (Case Study: Colby College Museum of Art)

Museum Hack - Renegade Tours

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The Colby College Museum of Art is a terrific art museum – one of the best in the state of Maine.  Each year, they run Art 211, a course that trains students to be successful museum docents.  With lots of practical, hands-on work, they focus on equipping students with an understanding of museum studies, gallery teaching techniques, and practical techniques for art education.  Students also become docents in the museum: leading tours, interacting with the public, and helping make the museum full of memorable experiences.

Yet, Colby College wanted to take things up a notch – to equip their students with more interpretive skills and to bring in new audiences to their museum.  They wanted training that would help their students give more engaging tours to their friends, diversify the museum’s audience, and make the student population more connected to their space.

They called Museum Hack!

Students conduct living paintings at the Colby College Museum of Art

Ethan Angelica went to the Colby College Museum of Art to help their students take things to the next level.  In a one-day workshop, Ethan interactively demonstrated our techniques for telling engaging, high-level stories and gave the students a framework for rapidly prototyping museum tours.  Colby College’s student docents practiced creating tours that utilized pacing, scaffolding, and smart use of smartphones to keep audiences energized and engaged throughout their experience.  Ethan also helped students fine-tune their performance and active-listening skills to infuse their tours with personal passion and help audiences make personal connections with the museum’s collections.

Colby students conduct research for their object hacks.

By the end of the workshop, students were inspired to create innovative tours and specialized programming for their friends.  They now had the skills to create a truly social experience that makes the Colby College Museum of Art a familiar and friendly place, as opposed to a faraway spot on campus.  Even better, they had learned new techniques for handling problem visitors and quickly responding to new situations that could arise during tours.  Watch how Nora, a student at Colby College, benefitted from the workshop:

Even the Colby College Museum of Art staff loved it!  Check out this great testimonial from Margaret, the Coordinator of School and Teacher Programs at Colby College:

Ultimately, we equipped Colby College student docents with the tools to create engaging experiences for their friends and a skillset that will help students rapidly prototype new and engaging activities in the museum.  Colby College Museum of Art had not only trained their students – they had also brought in new ideas for innovative programming designed to get all Colby College students engaging with – and loving – their museum.

We love working with students in museum studies, public history, and related programs!  Contact us to learn about our special presentations and workshops just for students.

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