Introducing Gallery Gear
Before participating in the summer internship program at the Newark Museum, I had assumed that, like most internships, I would spend the majority of my time observing museum work instead of participating. However, as an intern in the Education Department I’ve had an extremely engaging learning experience. Over the past eight weeks I’ve been involved with hands-on projects and had focused responsibilities. The Newark Museum’s internship program is unique due to the Museum’s dedication to providing real work experience for participants. For the first time I was able to understand what it’s like to complete my own projects and contribute to the department.
My main objective this summer was to create a guided activity to encourage families to explore the museum. After spending some time researching what other museums were trying and discussing ideas with members of the Education Department, I became focused on creating an activity box for children to use in any area of the museum. These boxes would have to be suitable for children ages four to eight, enhancing their experience in the museum while giving parents the chance to look around on their own. Seven weeks later and the “Gallery Gear” boxes have been created!
Before completing this project I hadn’t fully understood how much work goes into a single museum guide. I spent each week researching objects for the box, and then finding a way to translate these ideas into activities applicable to the museum’s exhibits. The box needed to be filled with small items, such as pipe-cleaners, stickers, and colored paper, each having a specific function, described on an easy to read instructions page. One of the biggest challenges with the project was creating activities that could be done in any area of the museum, including the science galleries, while still being specific enough to provide a real enhancement to each child’s experience. As of now, the boxes are in a testing phase so improvements can be made.
My last week as an intern is being spent taking kids from the Newark Museum Summer Camp into different galleries so I can study their experiences with the Gallery Gear boxes. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this project ends up; it’s come a long way from just a list of activity ideas eight weeks ago. Through the hands-on experience of completing my own project, I’ve learned a lot about how museum education works, and how vital a role education plays at the Newark Museum. I couldn’t have gotten a more in-depth experience anywhere else.
– Caitlin DiMartino, Education Intern (Summer 2012)
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