National Capital Exchange Program
It’s been more than a week now since 28 educators from the national museums and attractions based in Canberra set foot in Washington DC for the National Capital Exchange Program with educators from the Smithsonian museums.
And what a week and a bit it has been…
As a group we have interrogated museum education programs and visited 18 of the Smithsonian Museums located in DC along with Washington’s Column; Jefferson, Lincoln, World War 2, Vietnam, Korean Memorials; Arlington Cemetery and House; Capitol Hill; Library of Congress; National Archives and National Records of America; Newseum; Holocaust Museum; National Gallery and Shakespeare Library. It has been fast and fabulous!
Along the way we have met a wonderful and generous group of museum educators. They shared with us their passion for learning, their approach to evaluation and strategic thinking, and their ideas for integrating the digital age with authentic museum learning experiences.
We felt very much at home in Washington DC. It reminded us very much of our national capital with its classic style federal buildings, political focus, city design, national museums and malls, parks and gardens, memorials and statues. Everything was just much bigger in scale.
The other reminder was the thousands upon thousands of school children we encountered at every museum, attraction and memorial. They had come from all over the USA for the ‘Washington experience’. The numbers are huge - three million students alone visit the National Air & Space Museum.
The National Capital Exchange Program was as an opportunity for Australian museum educators from Canberra to meet and build relationships with fellow Smithsonian educators through shared learning conversations. These introductions provided my fellow Australian museum educators and myself with the opportunity to access and evaluate school and community museum experiences in the world renowned Smithsonian Museums and other cultural institutions. The professional learning has been profound and beneficial for both sides.
When we said goodbye to Washington it was with sadness and as good friends knowing that we will keep in touch and continue the knowledge exchange.