By Andie J. Kjar, a 13-year-old who is spending 52 weeks exploring all 50 states (50by52) with her family.
My family is currently on a year-long road trip to all fifty states, so we go to a lot of museums. There are a lot of mediocre museums, some are great and some are downright bad. I personally have noticed that there are some elements that make or break a museum. This is, of course, going to be biased towards a thirteen-year-old girls perspective, but here are three key components that can make or break a museum experience.
Component 1: Hands-on Activities
The best museums have one – if not many – hands-on activities for multiple age groups. By hands-on activities, I mean an activity that usually involves making something you can take home or will be displayed in a prominent place. They should usually involve construction paper, string, glue, marbles, tubes, cork board, pipe cleaners or washi tape. One exhibit at a particularly exemplary museum had kids build miniature tram cars that would crawl their way across a string, while another museum had kids make marble runs across cork board! They should be mostly focused on children, but there should be something for teens and parents to do- which leads me to my next point.
Component 2: Multi-Age Group Focus
When a museum is focused on only small children, the parents and older kids will get bored- fast- while when a museum has nothing but abstract or ancient art, small kids will whine and mope, or run around and break things. The best bet for a family with a wide variety of age groups is a museum for children ages 7-17, with areas for small children and interesting things for the parents to do as well. One particular museum we went to had a tornado simulator, a kids exhibit with a forest of pool noodles and another exhibit with a model showing how long the average intestines were!
Component 3: Compelling Exhibits
The main way most museums go sour is uninteresting exhibits. These exhibits usually are very interesting to the parents, but all the kids see are big chunks of useless information about things that died, like, 800 billion years ago! Exhibits should have info, but also should contain videos and interactive diagrams or, better yet, science experiments performed by a scientist that involve the crowd and large, awesome results. One museum used liquid nitrogen to deflate and reinflate a balloon animal without rupturing it, while another performance involved a fire tornado!
In conclusion, museums are always there to teach you about things that happened a long time ago, but these things will not sink in if they are not presented in an interesting and engaging ways!
About the Author
Andie Kjar is 13 years old and lives with two brothers (one is extremely paranoid, the other teases me) and a sister and her parents. She has a slightly unhealthy obsession with the YouTube show Good Mythical Morning and she enjoys swimming and reading. And also waffles. For more info on our adventures, go to 50by52.com or search 50by52 on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.