Today I took Emily to the Cleveland Federal Reserve’s Money Museum. This trip was overdue, I’ve been planning it for over a year now, but it is mostly open during school days. So, finally, the time was right. Originally I called the museum to ask about any guided tours for kids or people with disabilities.
Unfortunately the answer was no, with the exception of tours for groups of ten or more, but that’s already advertised on the web site. I was a bit disappointed, because I wasn’t offered any way to enjoy the exhibit, even though I explained that I won’t be able to see it. Just for comparison, when I called the Philadelphia Mint or the Smithsonian with the same request, they went out of their way to offer me accommodations. Anyway, I thought it would be fun for Emily, so we went anyway.
One of the employees met us at the entrance and gave a short introduction about the history of the Fed. She was very nice, but it sounded a little bit that it was a generic text, a bit too incomplete for an adult, and relatively complex for a kid. Then we were on our own in the museum.
I think it would be reasonable to have at least one guided tour a day or a week for people who cannot put a group of ten together.
I was able to read the descriptions with my phone, even from the movie screen, using the KNFB character recognition app. It was helpful for me to have an idea and explain to Emily what she saw on display. However, fortunately it was very interactive for kids, so she really enjoyed it without the descriptions. I still feel if I had a better idea about the different items, we could have had a better conversation. For example, there was a pile of pictures, and kids had to sort them according to want and need. I thought it was a very appropriate activity, and once Emily read the box labels and told me what was on the pictures, we could have a conversation about what is a need and a want, and how different pictures would belong to a different category for each person, for example, where a car is a need for my wife, my need is public transportation, but when you look at the family’s need, then the car again is a need.
Kids could take their pictures behind a Dollar bill as if their face on the bill, they could work on a bill puzzle, or watch a movie about the evolution of money.
One of the other fun exercises was instructions on folding a heart from a Dollar bill.
We both enjoyed the exhibit, though I have no idea if I have missed anything, but it appeared that Emily stopped at everything that interested her. My enjoyment was the fact that I could take her out for a fun day, but as a blind adult on my own, I wouldn’t have had enough things there to want to go back. Ok, it is true that the museum was mostly targeted to kids, but this wasn’t obvious to me based on the web site. The effort that went into customer service would definitely be fantastic if it was a non-profit organization on a shoestring budget, but from the Fed I would expect a little more.
The museum will be renovated next year, and they are looking for suggestions and surveying the audience about what they like. I will certainly submit my suggestion, which would be a downloadable mobile app for people to get more information about each object or activity. In a few years, I will definitely take Emily’s little sister, probably after the renovations. It is a great exhibit, and aside from the lack of accommodations, I would highly recommend it.