Monday, July 25, 2011

Top ten list for teen programs--what works

Last week, the NYC Museum Teen Summit made a trip to El Museo del Barrio where we were lucky to meet with Education staff members, Mairelys Alberto and Meghan Lally.  After falling in love with the new Bienal, The (S) Files and discussing how artists depict identity in their work, we headed outside for a hot brainstorming session. Since El Museo is in the process of ramping up their teen programs, we spent some time telling them about the most profound pieces of our own museum experiences.  

Here's our working list of 10 things that make teen programs shine (psst, museum educators, listen up): 

  1.  1. Learn about different priorities in different departments by meeting staff in communications, marketing, curatorial, etc. 
  2. Discuss hard-to-understand, conceptual art.  Dig into the artworks that everyone else says are too tricky. 
  3. Let youth put our own opinions into our work.  Don't tell us what to do/think/make.
  4. Make art
  5. Opportunities to teach other young people. 
  6. Trust young people to make decisions.  Don't just try to inject knowledge into us. 
  7. Work with living, breathing artists
  8. Give young people real projects to work on in the museum.  No fake exhibits, scaled-down tasks, imaginary events, or artwork that no one sees. 
  9. Create career pathways where we learn job skills and can move up in the museum.  We're happy to start at the bottom, but create spaces for us to grow. 
  10. Provide a variety of ways to be involved: drop-in, multiple-weeks, leadership programs, social programs, etc. As someone said on Wednesday, "Teen Programs: it's not just an after school special."