By Eric Olson, Power of Children and Take Me There: Egypt Manager, and Nicole Schoville, Family & Neighborhood Programs Coordinator
There have probably been times when you have walked through an exhibit at The Children’s Museum and said “I didn’t know that." But have you ever wondered "How did they know that?" After all, TCM presents exhibits on all kinds of subjects, ranging from dinosaurs to dollhouses, and even with designers, carpenters, researchers, educators, and interpreters working on all of them, the sheer number of exhibits that come through the museum amounts to a lot of information for one team to master. So, where do we get all the facts when a new exhibit is on the way? Well, we go to the experts!
Bucky Derflinger, namesake of Bucky the Teenage T. rex, works with families in The Children's Museum Paleo Lab.
When the idea for a new exhibit is chosen, TCM contacts a team of advisors, and these advisors are the real experts. For example, in our current Polar Bears to Penguins exhibit, we worked closely with J.J. L’Heureux, who has spent years studying and photographing penguins in their natural habitat, and Tammy Root, who cares for the penguins living at The Indianapolis Zoo. Dinosphere was developedwith helpfrom Bucky Derflinger, who discovered an actual T-Rex fossil on his own ranch!
Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White, meets with museum staff and visitors regularly
Authentic Arabic music was provided for Take Me There Egypt by Salaam, a wonderful band that plays all across America and beyond. And for The Power of Children we went directly to the source and spoke to the very people whose stories we tell: Ruby Bridges and Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White. In all of these cases, the advisors shared with us their knowledge, their experience, and their memories so that the TCM staff could create the exhibits and programs for over a million visitors to enjoy every year!
What makes our dealings with these experts truly extraordinary is that their involvement doesn’t stop once an exhibit opens. At that point, our advisors often go beyond talking to us and start talking to YOU! Each of the folks listed above has made it a point to return to The Children’s Museum on multiple occasions, to share their expertise directly with children and families. The settings range from informal appearances in the galleries and at Public Events, to more intimate registered programs for the whole family and educators. These visits provide an opportunity for more in-depth experiences than what you might ordinarily find at a museum, both through information and the “personal touch” that an exhibit simply cannot provide on its own.
Dena El Saffar of the Middle Eastern music ensemble Salaam, teaches children the art of Arabic drumming during a Family Program last fall.
This week’s Fall Break alone will see visits from Jeanne-White Ginder, Bucky Derflinger, and Salaam, as The Children’s Museum shows where it is the expert – providing extraordinary learning experiences for children and families every day. So always make it a point to ask what exciting guest might be coming to the museum on your next visit – you never know who you might meet!