The Capital Jewish Museum began a teen council in September 2019 in order to incorporate the teen voice into all aspects of the museum as we build! We know that teens are big stakeholders, so we take their inputs seriously. In the five months that we have been working with our teen council they have impacted the museum on all levels and learned a lot about what goes on behind-the-scenes in a museum throughout the process. Our teens have really enjoyed not only contributing their voice, but learning more about museum work as well, Leilani, 17, “I like that I can learn some aspects of the museum-developing process.”
This group of 17 individuals comes together to form our inaugural teen council. Alex, 16, shared that, “On the Teen Council, I love to work with teens from around the DMV. Each one of us brings a different point of view to the table which allows us to create a more inclusive community.” Even though they’re different they have been working together on lots of topics, “It helps to bounce ideas off of my peers and still have fun,” Caleb, 15. The teens have had a hand in developing one of the museum’s interactives in the core gallery. While exploring identity visitors will have to twist and turn large cubes to find words that they believe describe themselves. The teens helped us create a list of words that fit a diverse group of identities. Even among themselves they’ve recognized their own individuality, shared how they are multifaceted, and expressed how groups are not monolithic. While they all love museums, just like we do, you can also find them doing other things in the city. Kayla, 15, enjoys going to sporting games and exploring and Harris, 13, says his favorite things is “supporting the Nationals.”
The teen council has gotten to explore the construction site and participate in a VR activity where they got to walk through the space. They’ve prototyped exhibits, shared their thoughts on social media, shaped discussions around social justice and identity content, and they are currently designing response walls and participatory activities for the museum. Sophia, 16, “I wish more museums had ways to engage in the subject. This is another reason I’m really looking forward to the Capital Jewish Museum. There are many opportunities to interact with challenging questions regarding the DC Jewish community as well as broader issues that face people around the world.” Jocelyn, 13, Jennifer, 15, and Tender, 17, have all expressed that they wish museum had more interactives in them as well, their influence in the design process is making that a reality!
We can’t wait for you to see the impact that the teen council is already having at Capital Jewish Museum! Together the teens and staff will be sharing updates as we move forward. We’re pushing ourselves to be ready to meet the needs of the community and the teens are excited to be helping.