In September, 2020, Harvard Museums of Science and Culture—a consortium that includes the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology—will launch Hear Me Out, a project to expand Hispanic engagement by collaborating with youth. The consortium will partner with the Chelsea Youth Commission administered by the Chelsea Recreation & Cultural Affairs Division and two organizations in Somerville.
Through a series of exercises, teens will choose topics of high importance to them such as climate change or bridging communities with language. Working with museum staff, they will create audio, video, or still photography that reflects their views on topics related to museum cultural and natural history exhibits. The audiovisual installations will be available in the galleries for all to experience starting in 2021. The teens will host two public “openings” at the museum in 2021 and 2022, at which they will share their experiences with their families and the community. Teens will receive HMSC Family Memberships as part of the program.
To begin, bilingual Hispanic museum staff will identify and recruit one hundred teens at community-based workshops with partners Chelsea Recreation Division, and the Welcome Project in Somerville. Interested youth will apply for the museum-based program which will include stipends and materials to enable participation. A third partner, the Somerville Media Center teen program, will document the experience, making videos of the first cohort to serve as a recruitment tool for the second cohort. During the museum-based sessions, teens will learn from experts, be exposed to exhibit techniques, and create their audio and visual products.
This project is designed to foster teens’ awareness of museums as community spaces, enhance the impact of exhibits, increase feelings of relevance and inclusion for Hispanic visitors, and expand knowledge about contemporary Hispanic viewpoints among museum visitors and staff.
The project, originally developed before the pandemic, is being reworked to align with current guidelines for health and safety. Opportunities for teens to work with materials and technologies supported by the grant will remain while large-group time in community centers and museum spaces will be reconfigured.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (grant number MA-245652-OMS-20). The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. It advances, supports, and empowers America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Its vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov .