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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Value of Museum Memberships

For Christmas we gave the family a membership to the Natural History Museum, hubby and I felt that not only would this gift have value for the entire year, but that it would open their minds and give them some amazing things to view and see and do.  When we mentioned this to our friends and family, a few individuals actually felt that we "cheated" our children out of a gift because "no child wants to go to a museum and learn when they could be playing and having fun". 

I would first like to clarify that just because museums are for learning, does not mean they are not also fun.  Second, our children were elated to get the museum membership because they truly love exploring all the wonderful exhibits that are offered and learning about some amazing things!  Of course as a homeschooler I find museums to be wonderful teaching resources, and the kids really do enjoy them, especially the dinosaur bones and gold panning exhibits at our local museum. 

Now all that is well and good, but what fun is a museum really you ask?  Well, two days after Christmas, our museum held a special members only event in the evening after usual museum hours.  Our Museum welcomed Astronaut Joe Acaba to come and speak about his recent mission to the International Space Station.  He offered a very nice, yet brief presentation, and then opened up the field for questions.  He answered questions from children and adults alike and carefully chose his answers based on the age of the individual giving the question. 

If a child asked "how fast does the space station move?"  He answered "really, really fast," and then proceeded to give an example that the child would understand.  If an adult asked the same question then his answer was given in miles per hour and length of time to orbit the earth.  By the way the space station makes it's way around the Earth every 90 minutes, which means the sun rises and sets every 45 minutes on the space station.  How's that for confusing? 

After his presentation and Q&A session he did not immediately run off and disappear, nope, he stuck around and signed autographs for everyone in attendance!  Since only myself and my two older boys attended (I wasn't sure a 3 year old would sit nicely for the presentation), I asked him if he would kindly sign one for my little guy and he most happily obliged.  In addition to autographs he was also kind enough to pose for photos with everyone that was interested!  He was so kind to the children, and so willing to be part of whatever was asked of him that evening, he didn't have a "look how special I am for what I've done" attitude, but rather a "I'm a lucky guy to be doing something I love and I want to share that with you" attitude.  He was real, down to earth (har, har), and pleasant. 

She snapped the picture before B had a chance to fully get his smile together, 
but he really was happy to be there!

This was a rare opportunity for my big boys, and without our membership it would not have been possible!  They both loved listening to the presentation and learning about space travel, but even more they loved having the chance to post for a photo with a real astronaut, and get an autograph.  I intend to take their photo from that night, as well as the autographed photo and frame them nicely for a special reminder of this night when they were just kids, that was all made possible by a museum membership. 

Birbitt thinks making memories with my children is the best thing ever, and museums really are a valuable thing!

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