We spent Wednesday at the Getty Center where we'd arranged to meet with Rebecca Edwards who manages the Family Programmes, along with her colleagues Katherine who oversees the Family Room. We also met with the Manager of off Education Programmes, Elizabeth Escamilla.
The Getty is HUGE! You get there via what would be an amazingly scenic route on a driverless tram that goes up the mountainside. It was raining all day though so we had to imagine the views! Apparently some visitors' feedback says "Can we have more rides?"!
We spent the morning looking round the Family Room, sharing ideas and lots of similarities in our approaches and common issues with things like maintenance, lack of technical expertise (their space is entirely low-tech and brilliant for it). The Family Room is small and somewhat hidden in the vastness of the Museum, but nevertheless really popular. It is based on 6 different 'coves' or little environments each with a different character and based on one of six of the different collection areas (manuscripts, works on paper, fine art, dec arts, photography and sculpture). They all have a unique flavour: we particularly liked one with mirrors and another one where you could create a sculpture from bendy foam. (for some reason these pictures are at the top and won't go here...)
The theory behind the room is similar to our thinking: multi-levelled approaches (both physical and literal), open-ended activities, sometimes with things for visitors to take home (i.e. quite maintenance heavy which they had staff to replenish, but not sure we would...). They chose to go down the route of interactives based on individual artworks, but purely because the designer's ideas were stronger for this... Lots more to say but will be brief here.
After an amazing lunch (choice of ANYTHING!) in the cafe, we met with Elizabeth who talked about some of their Youth programmes - although this is something they don't do much of as yet, partly due to the logistics of getting people there. We also talked about the strategy for families (she said in an ideal world, there would be a PERSON to welcome every family and tell them where things were before even attempting to do any interpretation which was really interesting). We also touched on the current economic climate and funding for the Getty (endowment) etc.
Then we explored. See pics on Flickr
Everyone is so friendly and welcoming - really going out of their way to help us.
We're just about to be picked up for our drive to San Diego, so I'll stop now, but will just do one more post before that!