What happens when you let a group of kids take over a museum?
Chaos, madness and pandemonium are just three words that would spring to the mind of some museum visitors. These visitors, I have to say, are hopelessly behind the times. The fossils on display are probably more ‘with it’ than some of the people gawping at them. In the case of the Natural History Museum, you can follow their famous pile of bones on twitter @NHM_Dippy, how’s THAT for being ‘down with the kidz’?
On 11/11/11 I was sent by Kids in Museums to investigate the strange goings-on at the Horiman Museum in Forest Hill… For, you see, the Horniman –along with other museums up and down the country – had let Young People take over as part of Take Over Day, an annual event that puts kids in charge. An anathema to some, but it’s a great way to encourage the next generation of museum visitors to get involved and perhaps more importantly it’s a great way for the museum to find out what they’re getting right and what they’re getting wrong.
The Horniman turned to their Youth Panel to lead them through the trails and trials of the day, and invited them to, erm… take over.
It makes sense for the museum to turn to this group as they are already familiar with the way the museum works. In a way they have been ‘taking over’ the museum for a while now by holding special events such as Silent Discos to tempt that awkward teenage demographic through the doors. On the day, the kids took control of the Horniman’s digital aspect , specifically the Facebook and Twitter feeds. Ingeniously they were able to combine this with putting together a trail!
It seems that the skills needed to put together a trail and keep your online community happy are very similar indeed. By asking the online community some fun trivia questions about the collection not only do you engage your audience even when they’re not on site but you can also judge how easy/hard your questions are!
Geniuses, kids today…
You can see badges from the Horniman Museum over at the Museum of Museum Badges.