Newark Museum Explorers


Newark Museum Explorers

Newark Museum
49 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: 973.596.6612
Fax: 973.642.0459

Focus: Art, History, Humanities, Museum, Science, Youth Leadership

Annual Number Participating: 40

Ages: 14–18

Annual Budget: $198,100

Partners: Essex County Prosecutor’s Office; Newark City of Learning Collaborative; Newark Public Schools; Newark Thrives!

Funders: AT&T Foundation; PSEG Foundation; The New York Community Trust, Wattles Family Charitable Fund; The Prudential Foundation; The Walton Family Foundation; United Airlines; Victoria Foundation

The Newark Museum Explorers program takes advantage of the
diverse art, science, and history collections of New Jersey’s largest museum and provides unique youth leadership opportunities for high schoolers. A highly involved staff encourages Explorers to contemplate their future as they build critical-thinking, collaborative, research, and technical skills that prepare them for college and life.

In keeping with the museum’s long history of actively addressing the needs of its community, the Explorers program cultivates community-minded citizens and creates artistically and scientifically literate students. Each year of this three-year program entails weekly commitments of 6 hours after school and on weekends, 25 hours during the summer, plus 30 hours of annual community service. Students spend time in different departments of the museum, become familiar with its diverse collections, and identify aspects of the field that attract their interest.

Explorers also learn how to engage their peers and connect with the community through events that incorporate the museum’s collections. For example, they develop thematic tours that combine artwork analysis with hands-on painting or host teen nights based on the museum’s global art galleries. In addition to working with curators and educators, the Explorers also collaborate with the business and marketing departments, to understand successful event management and strategies for reaching their target audience.

Senior Explorers build upon lessons learned throughout the program by completing a final research project. In 2017, students connected the past with the present to create an exhibition that compared the youth of the 1890s with the youth of today. They studied the life of Alice Ballantine, a teenager raised in the museum’s onsite historic Victorian mansion, and compared the bedroom décor, recreational activities, and music of that period with today’s styles, fashion, and issues. Titled #ForeverYoung, their interactive exhibition incorporated View-Master stereoscopes to display pictures and information reminiscent of that bygone era.

In addition to becoming familiar with the museum’s art galleries, natural science presentations, and planetarium, Explorers also work in MakerSPACE, an area dedicated to hands-on design projects. Here, students merge science, technology, engineering, art, math, and design (STEAM-D). They learn about the creative process of artists and contemporary makers, while tapping into their own abilities using low- and high-tech tools. Explorers have also developed prototype activities and programs to engage visitors of all ages with the museum’s collections.

During its 22-year history, 270 teens have completed the Explorers program. And, within the past decade, 100 percent of the program’s participants have graduated from high school and pursued post-secondary education. Giving Explorers a voice in the programming, exhibition design, and decision-making process allows them to identify exhibitions and programs that speak to their lives and share their enthusiasm with peers and the community at large.

The Explorers program has made an impact on both my social and educational life. This program has helped me push toward the direction of art and museum education. Working in the Explorers program has helped me fuel a passion. Without all of our workshops, trips, and team-building events, I wouldn’t be the person and student I am currently.

Faith Layer Newark Museum Explorer