Expand Your Reach
A museum is not about what’s housed in its display case. It is about passionate people finding ways to engage others and connect them to our shared history. Your unit can create or expand your museum by understanding your community, developing programs that cater to them through your assets, and engaging your passionate volunteers.
The power of the CAF people
The best asset of the CAF has been and will always be its members. Your passion and expertise is what has the greatest lasting impact on all you touch with your educational outreach efforts. Harness that energy and create opportunities for members to engage in storytelling, artifact interpretation, programming and all other resources you use to expand your museum’s reach.
It’s all about education
Remember, knowledge is created within the learner, rather than being placed there by a teacher. Your museum will be most effective if it is made relatable to the learner and useful to them. Engage emotions, create experiences and make connections that will trigger reflection and allow learning to happen.
The primary role of museums within a society is to educate. A museum’s artifacts can be used to support this model, but showing artifacts alone is not enough. Put your artifacts in the context of a story that will provoke thinking and be relatable to the learner. A unit’s whole facility, museum included, should be viewed as a learning space.
Define your story and tell it well
As mentioned above, experiential learning related to a visitor’s own life is a way to connect past to present. An important tool to do that is artifact interpretation, transforming it from an object to an educational vehicle.
Interpretation will help you tell your story. This process will help each visitor find an opportunity to personally connect with an artifact. Interpretation should:
Be an art form
Connect the tangible to the intangible
Seek to place every object in context
Be appropriate to the audience – kids vs. adults
Promote critical thinking
Every interpretation should connect to your overall story and theme. Remember your audience and core objectives. Items in a case are just in storage if their story is not being effectively told.
Share your story with your visitors, and put in the legwork to make sure it’s factually accurate. Commit to guarding against the perpetuation of myths and hearsay. Conduct thoughtful research and consult experts as you embark upon telling your artifact’s story (and enjoy the process!) Create a central theme based on the mission and connect the storytelling of your artifacts back to that message. Refer to the four points of good interpretation and storytelling – ensure your work is thematic, organized, relevant and enjoyable!
Programming is the key to your community
Effective museums think beyond the display case. Utilizing creative programming is your gateway to community outreach. Events, activities and off-site visits will launch your museum to great heights. Look through the Getting Started and resource Center for programs and lessons coming in the Fall of 2019!
Spread the word
Use every communication vehicle available to you to do so.
Marketing is a valuable tool that can be easy and affordable with a little planning and preparation.
Make use of as many of these as possible when you have news to share:
Blog/news/events area of your unit website
Unit social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Direct mail to donor and member database
Local special interest Facebook groups
Press release to local media outlets (newspapers, magazine, TV/radio stations, locally focused news websites)
Online community event listings (municipal websites, Eventbrite.com)
Good old-fashioned flyers posted around town, at the library, at grocery stores and on community bulletin boards