Cross-posted from Krista’s public history blog.
I’ve written a few times in the past about visiting the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (locally known as the Bushplane Museum) for non-heritage events, namely for musical performances and a community craft show. In both cases the admission to the Bushplane was either free or the proceeds when to the performing artist. Those events were an example of a heritage space renting out their space to generate revenue.
A couple of weekends ago my family and I visited the Bushplane Museum during their regular operating hours as part of their “Family Fun Day.” In addition to their regular attractions the day included half price admission and a range of additional activities such as a magic show, crafts, community tables, and special guests from the popular kids show Paw Patrol. Basically it was a day designed to bring more people through the door. Given the fact that at numerous points throughout the day there was lineup to get in, I think they were definitely successful in that regard.
This visit also marked the first time I visited the Bushplane with a child. My daughter wasn’t terribly interested in all the extra things that were going on as part of the day, but she loved the planes and some of the interactive exhibit pieces in the museum. The Bushplane has a number of planes that are accessible to visitors and my daughter loved climbing in and out of them, sitting in them, and asking lots of questions about how things worked. One of the nice things about her enthusiasm around the planes was that it meant it gave me some time to read description labels, check out some of the digital interpretation, and generally just take in the museum.
I’m still adjusting to how your experiences at museum and heritage site visits change when you’re accompanied by a child. I am also becoming increasing appreciative of museums that do a good job of integrating child appropriate exhibits or special child focused programming into their services. Having dedicated space for children or children friendly interpretation can be a huge selling point when families are deciding where to visit. Sometimes this can be hugely elaborate programming but other times simply having colouring station or a touch/feel artifact section can go a long way.
What are some of your favourite examples of family friendly museum programming?