Watch Before You Visit! A Teacher Orientation Video to the National Museum of American History
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Watch Before You Visit! A Teacher Orientation Video to the National Museum of American History

ANDREA: Welcome to the Smithsonian’s
National Museum of American History. I’m Andrea
Lowther, Director of Visitor Services. A visit to our Museum is a great way
to learn about the American experience. [music] Our collections and programs tell the
stories of individuals whose courage and
inspiration have made their mark on all of us. [music] We think this is the best way to make
history really come alive for new generations
of Americans! STUDENT VISITORS: The only thing we
have to fear is fear itself! ANDREA: Our three floors of
exhibitions, and the Museum’s wide variety of daily
programs, offer terrific opportunities for
learners of all ages to engage with their
history. Admission is free. STUDENT: Being a wash woman is hard
work! ANDREA: As a vital part of the
Smithsonian, the Museum welcomes everyone,
including visitors with disabilities. The entire facility
is wheelchair accessible, and sign
language interpreters are available, if requested at least
two weeks in advance. VISITOR: Thank you very much!
EMPLOYEE: You’re welcome! ANDREA: Planning ahead is the number
one key to a successful visit. We suggest
you allow, at minimum, an hour and a half,
more if you plan to have lunch. For the
most successful visit, we recommend you choose one or
two themes, so your group will have a more
focused experience. It’s almost impossible to
see everything in one visit! [music] Planning should start with a trip to
our website, where you’ll find the best,
most-up-to-date information about daily programs and
facilities. Remember, even our “permanent”
exhibitions are closed on occasion, so our website
will let you know what will be on display
when you arrive, and which galleries may be
closed for renovation. [music] While you’re visiting our website,
check our school visit page for pre and post
visit materials. For example, your students may enjoy
watching our short orientation video before
they arrive. Our they can select a downloadable
self guide. Finally, we encourage you to save time
by using our convenient online form to
register your group in advance. If your group arrives by bus, ask the
driver to drop off, and pick up, on the Mall
side of the building unless otherwise
posted. Before everyone gets off, remind them
to leave their backpacks behind, along with
anything else they don’t need. That way, your
group can speed through security. Once inside, if you have not already
registered online, please register at the Welcome
Center centrally located next to the Mall
entrance. Staff there will provide you with maps
and other materials. It’s good to let your group know where
to gather at the end of your visit. Younger students should stay with
their chaperones at all times. Some older students might enjoy time
to explore on their own, especially if they’ve
thought ahead about what they’d like to see. Your students will have many
opportunities to interact with our friendly staff. DOCENT: This is actually water
vapor… ANDREA: At carts throughout the
Museum, we offer objects that can be touched DOCENT: …worn by women in El
Salvador… ANDREA: …and encourage visitors to
share their responses with staff and
volunteers. Demonstrations, daily performances,
and docents stationed throughout the galleries
enhance the visitor experience. If at any time, visitors in your group
need help, they should ask a member of our
friendly staff. SECURITY GUARD: What happened? In an emergency, please find a
security officer. This brings to mind the important role
of chaperones. Besides the obvious and
essential role of guiding young people toward
behaviors that will keep them, and other
visitors, safe, properly prepared chaperones
facilitate learning by modeling active listening and
participation. CHAPERONE: She was one of the first
female college professors… ANDREA: Please make chaperones part
of your pre-visit planning, that way, they’ll
be active partners in your students’ learning
when they get to the Museum. It’s funny how a visit to the Museum
can build up the appetite! While we don’t have
bag lunch facilities, you may purchase meals or
snacks in our main cafeteria. But please
remember, food and drinks may not be consumed
anywhere else in the Museum. If you have bag
lunches, we recommend you leave them on the
bus, or have the chaperones hold onto them
during the visit. In good weather, you can
picnic outdoors. [music] Groups of twenty or more may contact
Smithsonian Group Sales to make special
arrangements for menu is available on our website. [music] CROWD: I’m on my way, to freedom
land, I’m on my way, to freedom land! ANDREA: Don’t let your engagement
stop when you leave the building. Keep in touch
using our website where you’ll find
follow-up activities, have a chance to ask questions, and
share thoughts about your visit. Don’t miss History Explorer, the
special section for educators. It offers
standards-based lesson plans for your classroom and insight
into selected objects from our collection
for different grade levels. Our goal at the National Museum of
American History is that visitors will take
away the idea that history is made by real
people, like you. And who knows? Maybe one day, the
Museum will be telling your story, or the story of
one of your students. Enjoy your visit to the National
Museum of American History! [music]

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