|For more than 10 years, preschool children and their parents, grandparents, and other caregivers have participated in a program at Bennington Museum designed just for them: Museum ABCs. The program has been sponsored from the beginning by The Bank of Bennington, making it possible for families to attend at no charge, and supporting the purchase of books and materials.
“We started this program in partnership with the Bennington Free Library as part of an early literacy initiative, but also with the goal of helping adults feel at ease bringing a young child to a museum,” says the Museum’s director of public programs, Deana Mallory. “It has been very successful, and there are now kids in high school who can call themselves life long museum goers.”
But Mallory and her Library collaborator, Linda Donigan, always felt the program was not reaching a broad enough audience. She continues, “We know that there are a lot of families in Bennington who, for a variety of reasons, are not participating in programs like Museum ABCs, or maybe aren’t even aware the program exists.
Earlier this year, the Museum was awarded a grant from the A.D. Henderson Foundation to address that issue. Over the course of 2021, a newly hired Community Engagement Coordinator will work along with two Bennington College student interns to learn more about the barriers that discourage participation in Museum programming and how to address them. The results will be used to make Museum ABCs an option for more Bennington area families.