Spring break season is upon us now, which means lots of visitors, cute kids, and for my museum, a new entrance/ticket booth!
1. Open Hands, Open Heart
“Open hands, open heart” is my life’s philosophy. If my hands are open, I can help, which also opens them for receiving. This can be exemplified in a small moment that I had in the museum on Monday. One of my main responsibilities inside our Pirates exhibit is to keep visitors from touching the cannon. I saw an older couple with their hands all over one of the four cannon. Instead of immediately reprimanding them, like I usually do, I tried a redirect. “Are you looking for the F?” (there is a letter F on the trunnions of the first cannon). “Yes!” I showed the visitors where the F was, saying out loud that I was not going to touch the cannon because we are not supposed to. This then sparked a few questions, then a full conversation. I will not forget that moment because it exemplifies the open hands (helping them find the cannon), open heart (learning about redirection and appearing more open to the visitors while enforcing rules) philosophy.
2. Fear-Fighting Friendship
The biggest problem we have in Pirates is the fact that the exhibit is a bit scary for small children. On Wednesday, there was a little girl that was scared of part of the exhibit and didn’t want to enter it with her grandma. I waved, and offered to join them in their walk through the exhibit. The little girl was hesitant at first, but soon she was walking alongside me through the exhibit, and even waved to the mannequins when I waved to them (I greet them like old friends because they’re less scary that way). Once we passed the mannequins, she showed me her necklace — it was from her great grandma. I hovered as the girl and her grandma finished the exhibit, but they didn’t need me. The little girl had a brave companion, and I did, too.
To tag along with the previous thing, I have used the appearance of bravery to help other small children be “brave” in going through our exhibits. If I am brave, then they wan to be, too.
Likewise, if your ticket booth looks professional and friendly, your visitors will treat you in a professional and friendly manner. We went from an outdoor plywood box to an indoor wood (bamboo) desk at work, and I cannot believe the difference! There are fewer complaints about prices (and they went up) and the museum in general. It feels like a museum, it looks like a museum, so by golly it must be a museum!
4. Spring Break!
In Washington, DC, if we’re lucky, spring break and the Cherry Blossoms appear around the same time. We’re lucky this year, which means that we’re topping 1000 visitors almost every day this week. It’s exhausting (500 on a weekend is a good weekend), but so fulfilling. The best part about spring break is that it’s short, meaning families are being much more intentional about their plans, which means that most of them already know about our exhibits (score!).
How has putting on brave appearances helped you at your museum? How do you help scared kids?
What have you found in a museum this week?