The robust Public Programming schedule developed over the past few years continued to provide a diversity of experiences to visitors. By the end of the year, 270 lectures, demonstrations, classes, concerts, screenings, contests, special tours, performances and festivals will have been held, serving an estimated 12,500 people.
Two ongoing series were added this year. A weekly Lunchtime Yoga class, designed in part to serve employees of neighboring businesses, has developed a core of regulars and continues to grow. A monthly Family Tour allowed adults and children to enjoy a docent–led tour of the museum at no cost.
Contests, a new program format, also proved a great tool for community outreach. Sixty local students in grades 6-12 participated in the Silk Road Essay Contest, and the professionally judged Student Animation Contest resulted in many highly creative shorts based on the museum’s popular Samurai exhibition. (Watch the winning films in the ” Digital Lounge“.)
The summer film program was effectively expanded in 2009. The Anime Film Festival drew diverse audiences all summer long, and the successful Chinese Film Festival received international media coverage. Similarly, increased partnerships with largely Asian theatrical groups brought impressive performances and talented local actors, playwrights and improv artists to the public eye.
This year, the Education Department also introduced an Audio Tour. Delivered via cell phone, the tour provides additional context on the museum’s historic building, permanent collections, and special exhibitions. The inaugural recordings feature original poetry inspired by the museum and its collections – an unexpected but effective way of giving visitors new ways to experience the museum. The audio content and transcripts are also on the museum’s website to increase accessibility for international audiences as well as the hearing impaired.
The success of the museum’s Community Outreach Coordinator, hired in mid-2008, was extremely apparent throughout 2009. Some of the year’s most popular performances, such as martial arts demonstrations and a Chinese Opera performance, came about through partnerships established by the bilingual Coordinator. The museum has also had an increased presence in the community at cultural festivals, city functions, local libraries, and business events.
School Programs were particularly strong this year. Offered free to schools, the demand for this popular museum tour/ hands-on workshop format continues to grow. In fact, this spring student numbers were up a whopping 52%! An entire year’s supply of Family Tickets, given to all students to encourage returning with their families, had to be reordered within just a few months. Increased school partnerships, an exhibition of particular interest to teens, an increased teacher willingness to be flexible in scheduling, staff positions dedicated to community outreach and tour coordination, and the availability of bus funding all played a role – as did the willingness of our docents to meet the demand! In all, an estimated 3,700 students and 950 adults will have participated in the tour program in 2009.
Throughout the year, preparation was underway for the fall kick off of the Docent Training program. Held every other year, docents submit applications and are interviewed. Those who qualify meet weekly for an intense regimen of orientation, lectures and research. Upon successful completion of the course, they will be a welcome addition to the docent corps.
In collaboration with Pasadena Unified School District, Education staff developed and piloted a sixth grade curriculum for the My Masterpieces program. Using the museum’s collection and the Journeys: The Silk Road exhibition to address state standards in art, history, and writing, the program will be further expanded in the 2009-2010 school year, eventually serving all sixth graders in the district.