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Behind the Access Doors: Youth and Family Programs Manager

By Andrea Hayes, Visitor Services Representative

Today’s Museum is dynamic and in some cases interactive. When I talked with Jessamy South, Youth and Family Programs Manager, I had the chance to talk about some of the fun opportunities TCM has for children and families year-round and the work that goes into making them happen. 

Jessamy says, her “journey into museums started the summer before my senior year of university. I was working on a degree in history and interned at a historic house museum in my hometown.” It was that experience that led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Museum Studies.

“I have always enjoyed working with children,” Jessamy shares. And even though Jessamy says “ I didn’t originally think I would go into museum education…after taking one class in the subject, it seemed like a natural fit (and the most fun!).”

At The Columbus Museum, Jessamy’s focus “includes developing programs that allow families to engage with the Museum’s collection and exhibitions.” She “program[s] for children from babies to teenagers and the caregivers who accompany them.” Many of the programs Jessamy develops include TCM’s youngest visitors, too. She says, “[t]he youngest age group I work with are in the Artful Babies classes for ages 6- 24 months and the oldest group is the Teen Advisory Group, who I mentor as they plan events for teens at the Museum.”

Jessamy shared with me that she is also in charge of other programs “including Mini Makers, Parent and Child Workshops, Open Studio, and Summer Camp.” Much goes on behind the scenes when it comes to making each of these programs a success. “There is a lot that goes into a program before the public sees it and what people see is usually the result of months of planning,” Jessamy shares.

“For an event like the Fall Festival, I begin planning as soon as the previous event ends, coming up with a theme and developing ideas for art activities developing the budget based on supply costs,” she continues. “Supplies are ordered several months before the program to allow time to prepare materials for the event… I also look at program evaluation data after events to make adjustments for future programming.”

Jessamy tells me that she loves the intricate details of her job. She says, “I enjoy the variety that comes with working with such different age groups as well as the creative license to develop programs tailored to those audiences.”

She also enjoys the different types of artwork that cycle in and out of the Museum. Jessamy shares that “[b]oth from a personal and professional standpoint, I really enjoyed the Saya Woolfalk exhibition. It was exciting for me to see all ages of audiences I work with engaging with and excited about the exhibit, from the Artful Babies class exploring color to the discussions the Teen Advisory Group had in the space.”