Updated NASAA Member Directory

Thursday, August 9, 2007

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Did You Know?

Children's Museums Can Serve as Community Hubs

A survey conducted by Reach Advisors in spring of 2007 asked 5,500 parents and grandparents what types of museums they visit with their families and why. The intent of the survey was to determine how relevant children's museums are to parents and children, if museums serve all of their community, when families start to visit other types of museums and whether or not the children's museum is perceived as a community hub.

Family Attendance
AgePattern
2 a 4Art museum attendance declines
5 a 7Science museum attendance increases
8 a +History museum attendance increases
*based on age of oldest child

Culled from the responses of visitors and members of 33 U.S. children's museums, the results of this survey show what types of museums families visit and when they visit in their family life stage. General trends indicate that the age of the oldest child is the principal factor in what types of museums families visit.

An interesting finding of the survey is the benefit of a children's museum serving as a community hub. Museums that function as community hubs exhibit higher levels of membership, visitation, audience diversity, program income, community relevance and local financial support.

For museums who want to function as community hubs, James Chung of Reach Advisors suggests the following:

  • Accelerate external partnerships - Museums should look beyond schools, libraries and other museums for partnerships. A successful community hub also reaches out to social service agencies, houses of worship and small businesses.
  • Host community meetings/events - Museums should do this in a very strategic, methodical way. The more community leaders visit a museum the more value they find in the museum.
  • Enable staff to assume community leadership roles - Museums should allow staff time to volunteer and become leaders in the community. It will benefit the museum in the long run.
  • Offer satellite programming - When museums extend programs into diverse community locations it exposes new audiences to the services that they provide.
  • Free Pass programs/Socio-economic assistance - Offering free or discounted admittance stimulates interest from new audiences. It shows a commitment to the entire community.
  • Multi-generational activities - As Generation Y enters their peak child-birthing years, museums must anticipate their needs. This generation is very close with their parents and will be bringing both children and grandparents to the museum.

Source: Reach Advisors "Town Square...or Town Playground: The Relevance of Children's Museums in Today's World." Findings presented at the annual meeting of Association of Children's Museums (ACM), Chicago, May 2007.

For more information contact James Chung at Reach Advisors: james@reachadvisors.com