The last two years have brought a dramatic increase in Educational Outreach programs at the Pensacola Museum of Art. The following tips helped us develop outreach trunks.
Start with what you already have.
Trunks can be developed on any theme — historical, cultural, scientific. The trick is to keep it focused. We started each of our trunks by using objects already in our permanent collection and material already developed for current exhibitions.
Make your material user-friendly.
Don’t assume that the third grade teacher who borrows your trunk wants to spend a week becoming an expert on Japanese culture. Write explanatory material that is easily understood and adaptable to any age level or curriculum subject.
Make it fun.
Include some fun facts and activities in your resource materials. For example, did you know that West African tribesmen carry miniature masks called “ma’s” for identification, and they carry them under their arms! After learning about the miniature masks and how they were used, students can create their own “ma’s” in paper or clay. Both teachers and students will enjoy the material, and remember it better, if it is presented as “edutainment.”
Make it practical.
Our first trunk was so bulky and heavy that one person couldn’t carry it out to the car. Our next two were much better— one is a lightweight, heavy-duty Rubbermaid trunk with built-in handles; the other is a footlocker with built-in wheels.
Hold in-service training with your trunks.
To help teachers in our county become familiar with the trunk materials, the museum hosted several in-service training events. We worked with social studies, language arts, and fine art coordinators to bring all of their teachers to the museum to learn about the trunks first-hand.
Caroline C. Brown, Curator of Education, Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL
Brown, Caroline C. “It works for me…Sharing successful techniques, thoughts, and ideas.,” The Docent Educator 6.1 (Autumn 1996): 20.