Full Report: Museum Hack’s First Boot Camp

Museum Hack - Renegade Tours

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Museum Hack’s mission is to help museums improve the way they engage with visitors and showcase their amazing collections.  There are so many new ideas about how museums can improve their relationships with audiences, but we know the secret isn’t just boosting programs and attendance. The biggest factors lies in the first and most consistent aspect of museums that visitors encounter: museum staff.

There are several key elements to craft an incredible museum experience, but the people who interact with visitors everyday are undoubtedly the most important. A seemingly uninteresting collection or piece of art can come to life with the right guide telling the right story, and suddenly it’s a completely different experience for visitors. So, how do you tap into the potential of your staff and uncover the hidden, crazy stories that will leave guests raving about their visit?

By investing in one of a kind, world class training with Museum Hack Boot Camp!

Attendees on a VIP Met tour

Our Boot Camps are all about improving the way museum staff engage with visitors as co-creators of museum experiences. We want to arm every museum professional with tools that make tours educational and entertaining for visitors, while fostering long-term relationships with potential donors and members.  Our Boot Camps are designed to help museum staff develop the skills and techniques that we practice on our tours everyday. We demonstrate how to tell the stories that visitors want to hear and our methods are proven to help attract (and keep!) new audiences.

Our first-ever group Boot Camp kicked off on February 26, 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 Metropolitan Museum of Art.  After a round of fun introductions, 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.

But first…they needed to experience our unique Hack style!

All in for museums!

That first evening, we treated Boot Camp attendees to our VIP Night Tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, giving them a taste of what we do for our guests on a regular basis.  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.

Living sculptures during Museum Hack tour

The next morning, the Hackers-in-Training traveled to the American Museum of Natural History.  Trainees were immersed in our touring methods while exploring the amazing natural history collections of AMNH. They saw our principles and hacks in action at two museums with very different collections.  Attending these tours also invited discussion on how we adapt our techniques for audience engagement to each museum’s unique collections and spaces, grounded in our “reverent irreverence” methods and personal passions. The dichotomy between our methods at the Met and AMNH demonstrated that it isn’t just about the objects – it’s about the way we connect with our visitors, the stories we choose to tell, and how we share those stories.

“Being thrown right into the VIP tour and seeing how Museum Hack works was a great experience. I also loved having the opportunity to practice the skills and ideas being presented. Working with other museum professionals to create our presentation and to bounce ideas off of was so useful.”

– Lori H.

John Rudy takes a Dino Selfier on tour at AMNH

We then traveled across Central Park to the Met for an afternoon full of in-depth training on each aspect of our tours.  Hackers-in-Training were led through a condensed version of our months-long training program for Museum Hack guides, featuring:

  • Our “5 Elements of a Hack” framework for creating engaging, successful narratives that make museums and their collections come to life.
  • 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.

Attendees work together to discover Museum Hack methods

Next, attendees split into their squads and were set loose in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The group dived into the varied collections of the museum to create their own object hacks, activities, and tour routes under the guidance of our VIP Guides. 

On Sunday morning, each squad was ready to reveal their Hack-style tour. 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 and Museum Hack staff. Check out these photos of the Hackers-in-Training in action:

John Rudy delivers an object hack

Attendee delivering an object hack

Attendee delivers object hack

“The information was presented in a very straightforward manner. I felt very comfortable presenting at our final tour, because I knew that it was a safe space and one in which we could make errors. Ours coaches were all wonderful. Ethan was amazing! He was so supportive of everyone and during the whole final tour whether they were in his squad or not.”

— Laura S.

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.

Though the three whirlwind days in New York were over, our new graduates didn’t go home without our support. A month after the workshop, our guides reached out to check in with each attendee to discuss any concerns they had and how implementing our methods was impacting their work and their museums.

“Being in New York with the Museum Hack Team for 3 days was an exhausting and exhilarating experience. At the end of the day, all of our efforts here at the Mississippi Museum of Art boil down to helping every member of our community have a deeply personal connection with our art works. Museum Hack really helped us unpack some strategies and techniques for livening up and personalizing our tours in ways which will feel fresh to brand new faces as well as to our friends who come every time.”

– Daniel J.

Holding hands

We had an amazing time hosting our first-ever group 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 April, June, 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

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