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What Does Fun Look Like at the DMA?

September 5, 2013

I have written posts in the past about our goals for docent-guided tours at the DMA. Our current goal statement was written five years ago, and I think it’s in need of a few updates. It states that we want students to feel comfortable at the Museum, as well as to begin to see their world in a fresh way. What does that mean, and how can we measure whether that happens on our tours?

4th_Grade_Tours_11_2012_032

Over the summer, I met with small groups of docents to begin redefining our goal for tours. These docents were asked “What are your motivations and desires when planning a tour for the DMA’s visitors?” Their answers were thoughtful and really demonstrate their passion for the work that they do at the DMA.

  • My hope is that they will learn how to “look” in a museum setting and that they will want to return or visit other museums.
  • My biggest goal is to get the students to want to come back and to leave with vivid memories of what they saw.
  • My biggest hope is that even one child sees an object that excites them and makes them want to see more.
  • I want them to leave with more questions than they had when they came in so that they will be eager to come back and enjoy what this museum has to offer.
  • I want the students to feel comfortable, be inspired and amazed, learn a few things, and have fun!
  • My motivation is to share objects that are special to me so that I can bring genuine excitement to them.

4th_Grade_Tours_11_2012_105

I plugged the docents’ responses into Wordle in order to easily see what words popped up repeatedly. In a word cloud, the size of a word corresponds with the number of times it was entered into Wordle. From this word cloud, it’s obvious that a “fun experience” is the top motivation for our docents when planning tours.

Docent Goal Word Cloud

As a group, the docents and I are now trying to unpack the word “fun.” Just what does a fun experience at the DMA look like? How do we know that students are having fun in our galleries? Do sketching and inventing stories about a work of art lead to a fun experience? Is laughter our best indicator that students are enjoying their tour? These are just some of the questions that we are pondering as we begin our new training year.

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These kiddos certainly appear to be having fun on their tour

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. I would love to have your insight as we move forward with revising our goal for docent-guided tours. How do you know that your students (or children) are having fun at the DMA? What have been some of their favorite experiences here? If you’re a teacher, I am also curious to know what your motivations are when you schedule a field trip to the DMA. It will be interesting to see how your motivations overlap with those of our docents.

Please add your comments below or feel free to email me. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on having fun at the DMA!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

One Comment leave one →
  1. Melissa Nelson permalink
    September 5, 2013 4:24 pm

    I LOVE that last picture. Those kids are definitely having an awesome time!

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