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better museum people.

Field Trips

  • Field trips are an essential component of a successful museum, but it can be difficult to make a truly successful field trip. When hosting field trips, there are a lot of components that will need to be kept in mind to ensure the guests are happy with their experience and that they return, year after year. Below you will find some of our best practices for building a successful field trip:

  • Scheduling the field trip is one of the first things to consider for your visitors. How easy is it to do this? Do they complete a form online or have to call? Consider what will be easiest for the teachers that will be scheduling these trips and try to develop the easiest platform for them to register. Teachers are usually busy leading classes during the school day making phone calls difficult to make.
  • Teachers should be provided a “before you come” packet which provides what state standards will coincide with a student’s visit. This can be done both through the mail or a digital download for teachers. The packet could even include lesson plans for teachers that they can do with students prior to their visit at your museum. Preparing students for what they are going to see will make a great difference in the student’s experiences. Include what rules the visitors will be required to follow. Let them know where their children can eat their lunches, store their coats, and make sure to include directions to your museum and any bus parking rules, etc.
  • Ensure you have plans to make the experience for the visitor fluid, organized, and memorable. Have a greeter prepared to share reminders of the rules upon arrival. Make the items they are seeing have a powerful story with an emotional pull. Telling great stories is always the best way to hold a students and visitor’s interest. Stories will make or break a museum experience for the students. Be sure to provide time in the beginning for students to cover basic needs, such as visiting the restroom, hanging or storing coats and lunches, etc. It’s important to remember that a schedule is more of a suggestion on a field trip.
    1. A skilled and flexible interpreter is key to success. When interpreters dress in the period that they may be interpreting this can also be helpful to help immerse a student in the content they are seeing. Provide opportunities and activities that allow their input and engagement so that they too feel like they are part of the story they are being told.
    2. It is important to guide students to see the importance of a location and the real meaning it has. Simply because a historic event happened at a location can often mean little if they don’t understand the depth of what occurred or what it would have been like for them to have experienced it.
    3. Technology can be helpful when used appropriately. For example, an appropriately timed short film, interactive game, or 3D experience can make a striking impact.
  • Teachers can be provided an “after you go” packet which discusses activities they can do to break down what they learned and further meet state requirements for their students. Some examples of this could include journaling, discussion activities, games, etc. Providing additional activities after a visit that the teacher can do is sure to leave an impact that will bring teachers back year after year. These packets can also include additional resources that may be helpful in their classrooms.
  • Consider how you will get the students and staff to return. Provide brochures to give to the students and faculties families. Perhaps a family discount for a return visit and keep them interested by providing teachers the opportunity to do a survey and share feedback. If possible, have the teacher complete the survey while they are still with you. This will provide the greatest success. Be sure to ask them to come back again next year, and provide information about what they might hope to see and experience in the future, and provide material on any upcoming exhibits.

Illinois Association of Museums
P.O. Box 31155

Chicago, IL 60631


Email: illinoismuseums@gmail.com




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