If there is ever a time to visit museums, September is it. Tourists have finished their summer jaunts, students are back in school, field trips haven't begun yet, and the museums are marvelously empty, allowing us to slowly soak in all the great exhibits and enjoy one-on-one time with the museum educators.
I try to make September our "museum month," visiting as many of our city's museums as possible. While museums play a vital role in our urban homeschooling all year, we get the most out of them this month, before the groups begin pouring in again, before our fall activities get into full swing, before the cold weather makes picnic lunches on the museum grounds less inviting. This is the month to make our memberships worthwhile, asking lots of questions, getting to know the museum staff, finding out about homeschooling programs or group activities.
Here in the Boston area, for example, many of our museums offer classes specifically aimed at homeschoolers, including programs offered by the Museum of Fine Arts, the New England Aquarium, and the Franklin Park Zoo. And most museums, including the Boston Museum of Science pictured above, have excellent online learning activities, podcasts, videos and materials related to their exhibits that can enhance museum learning.
If you haven't peeked yet at the Smithsonian's online education site, I highly recommend it. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry, and the San Diego Zoo all have wonderful age-specific curricula, lesson plans, and activities available for free download or online viewing.
September is a great month to take advantage of the vast learning resources that local museums offer and use these tools to get the most out of the museums year-round. What are some of your favorite museums and museum-related resources?