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Museums Seek to Lure, Then Lock in, Teenage Connoisseurs

Thursday, May 14, 2015   (0 Comments)

New York Times (03/16/15) Pogrebin, Robin

Museums throughout the U.S. are using more creative strategies to entice the adolescent demographic, including making their institutions more accessible and up-to-date. “Teens are an important audience,” notes Philadelphia Museum of Art curator Emily Schreiner. “The goal is not necessarily numbers through the door as it is a very gradual cultural shift, as people from all walks of life feel that they belong in the museum.” Schreiner's museum recently established a Teen Ambassador Group consisting of 10 people who visit the museum every other week for a year to work on programming for their peers, which concludes with an art exhibition. “We want to have teens helping to engage their community rather than us adults programming for them and hoping they show up,” Schreiner says. Several prestigious museums have teenage councils where students learn about the institution, meet with staff, and sometimes host tours for people in their age group. Another approach is to offer teens a more relaxed social environment. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for example, supports 15 teenage interns who help plan an “After Dark” night for peers. Some institutions are trying to lure teenagers via inventive technology, such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's Immersion Room, which enables visitors to design wallpaper patterns and project them onto the walls. Other museums offer more clearly educational programs for teens, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's 14-week training course for public high school students.

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