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Museums: Sell the Sizzle!


The American Alliance of Museums published It’s Time to Sell the Sizzle, an essay by the Wellin Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Educator for School and Community Programs Amber Spadea, on its Center for the Future of Museums blog this month.

Drawing on her experience creating and managing the museum’s K-12 and community education programs and conducting research on what makes public school teachers choose to use a museum as part of their curriculum, Spadea outlined some best practices she incorporates into her work. 

“What we need to sell instead is the sizzle—how our art can fit into their curriculum,” wrote Spadea. “We need to learn their language, and meet them where they are in their curriculum. Underneath the new verbiage is the fact that looking at, thinking about, and discussing art can be a fluid, effortless accent to the daily demands of today’s education systems. … As museum educators, we are a bridge between worlds.” 

As part of a two-year Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, she has been interviewing teachers as well as educators from other academic museums in the region to see how museums can best meet the needs of educators. “We are a young museum, seeking to build a constituency and dispel the ‘ivory tower’ persona that is so often attached to museums and higher education institutions more generally,” explained Spadea.

Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions and corporate partners serving the museum field, the American Alliance of Museums is the only organization representing the entire scope of the broad museum community.

The Alliance’s Center for the Future of Museums helps museums explore the cultural, political and economic challenges facing society and devise strategies to shape a better tomorrow, according to its website.

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