August 22, 2019
As a museum professional, there are so many services I learned about that offer various ways to facilitate museum practices. For instance, there are services that help museum educators run booking and scheduling school programs. There are also services that help education programs get attention from parents and teachers to learn about field trip opportunities at museums; one of those services is Explorable Places. According to their website, Explorable Places helps parents and teachers find great learning experiences outside the classroom.
I learned about Explorable Places during this past year’s New York City Museum Educators Roundtable (NYCMER) conference. It was in the session I attended called Technology in Museums: when it works, and when it doesn’t, which discussed when it makes sense to add technology to museums; the session asked questions such as: When does introducing technology actually take away from our objective? How can we figure this out before pouring thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into a “new” technology product? The speakers, one of them was the founder of Explorable Places, discussed their partnerships to draw more teachers and students to their museum. Since attending the session, I decided to take a closer look at the website to see how this service works.
On the website, there is a place where one can find trips, assemblies, and performances by typing in one’s zip code. At the time of this post, the featured cities are New York, Kansas City, Metro-Denver, and Philadelphia. In the modify search and search results page, there are five sections to help adults find opportunities and connect with museums to book programs. One can look for experiences by subject, grade level, activity, cost, and accommodations such as lunch space and special education programs. Also, one can look for programs that have the option to book online. When I clicked on one of the museums, a profile of the museum I selected appears which provides a brief description of the museum, pictures, and contact information.
Each profile also includes information on lunch spaces so they know if the museum has a place to eat or if there is a place nearby students can eat, and they provide information about bathrooms. Also, the profile has a section that showed tags for subjects, activities, grades, cost, and accommodations the museum has based on the search results. For instance, I went onto the Children’s Museum of the Arts profile and found the subjects educators teach are technology, arts, art, visual arts, and media/film. Profiles have a section called Learning Experiences which list educational opportunities with information such as a brief information, grade levels, capacity, price options, and duration of program. If a museum’s profile has this feature, adults could book online through Explorable Places portal which will take them to the museum’s calendar of availabilities and will guide them through the steps to book a program at the museum. I see the potential of helping more museums, parents, and teachers form connections to provide and participate in opportunities. Explorable Places’ home page includes links to pages for cultural partners, parents, and teachers to help them find what they are looking for.
For cultural partners, Explorable Places wants to help parents and teachers find them and the programs they offer. If an institution was not found on the Explorable Places site, they can reach out so Explorable Places can add them to the list to spread the word to site members. There are three tiers available for those considering reaching out to the site. The first tier, which is free, allows one to manage the page to include a photo of the site or program, one hundred words to describe what the museum/site does, up to five subject tags (verified for accuracy), and contact information and link. Each tier after the first one has additional features such as highlight learning experiences and unlimited bookings.
For parents and teachers, after clicking on the link it directs visitors to the places webpage. There are places in the states of Pennsylvania, Kansas, Colorado, New York, Delaware, and a couple of places in Massachusetts. Some of the places that are listed on the website are but not limited to Four Mile Historic Park, Old Sturbridge Village, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and the Gore Place. Also, there is an opportunity to sign up to become a member so one could be informed about new museums or sites added to the cultural partners list.
To learn more about what Explorable Places offers and see if it is right for your site, students, or children, I included the website in the resources section.
Announcement: I will be attending this year’s AASLH Annual Meeting in Philadelphia next week from August 28th to August 31st. Instead of writing a blog post next week, I will be posting my reactions on social media and compile highlights for a post when I return. To follow my reactions to the sessions and events live, follow me on Twitter at this username: @Steward2Lindsey