Title:Developing Teachers’ Resources at the Museum of Tolerance: A Case Study in Innovation and Evolution
Authors:Sarah Bordac, Carolyn Brucken, Linda Blanshay, Liebe Geft, Elana Samuels
Publication:MW2003: Museums and the Web 2003

This presentation offers a case study on the process of creating a Teachers' Guide web site and printed resource at the Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles. The Teachers' Guide project sprung from the basic need to revise outdated materials, with the initial goal of providing materials for educators preparing students for a visit to the Museum. However, the entire process led to a deeper exploration and clearer articulation to our visitors of the Museum's mission, exhibits and programs. As a result, the project outcomes echoed throughout the entire institution influencing current and future programs, promotional materials and development efforts. The presentation will address the partnerships and collaboration that existed throughout the project, the process of development and evaluation, and the resulting institutional effects and lessons learned through developing a Teachers' Guide for the Museum of Tolerance. The Museum of Tolerance is a unique educational institution, which utilizes cutting edge technology together with innovative learner-centered approaches to challenge visitors to confront bias and bigotry in the world today. The project goal was to provide California teachers with the tools they need to teach the content discussed in the Museum: the power of words and images, the dynamics of discrimination, the pursuit of democracy and diversity, and the value of personal responsibility. While the project started off Californian-based, we realized it could serve educational professionals across the country and perhaps even world-wide. Our case study poses the questions: What happens when you take a museum already based on technology and build a web site? Did it hinder or help project development? How did we represent the Museum's goals and themes outside of the Museum's exhibits? The Museum of Tolerance has always challenged itself to expand on what the purpose of a museum is "focusing on the transforming power of technology, partnerships, education and social action" many of the issues that have become increasingly central to all Museums. The case study on the Teachers' Guide we are presenting brings these core elements to the fore. An insight to be shared is how the process led not only to an innovative product, but provided the opportunity for us to evaluate the role of the museum and to realize how a basic need could transform an institution.