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Study Proves It: Museums Change Lives


Hard to believe that no one had looked into this before, but now someone has: Exposing your kids to museums will enrich them forever.

A few high-powered museums, including New York's Whitney and Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art, wanted to know whether their youth programs were valuable. So they got together and commissioned a study. As Smithsonian reports:

"They recruited over 300 former participants of four programs for teens that have been in existence since the 1990s. Alumni, whose current ages range from 18 to 36, were given a questionnaire and invited to focus groups and profile sessions to find out how they viewed their participation years after the fact.
Among the alumni surveyed, a whopping 75 percent of alumni rated the teen program experience as the most positive influence on their own lives, surpassing family, school and their neighborhoods. Nearly 55 percent thought that it was one of the most important experiences they’d ever had, regardless of age. And two-thirds said that they were often in situations where their experience in museums affected their actions or thoughts."
Sure, part of the high marks might also have to do with their upbringing, because the kinds of family that might expose a kid to a museum's programs are also more likely to encourage artistic and diverse thinking. But the result was unmistakable: that exposure matters.
And, as Smithsonian points out, the findings are backed up anecdotally by other studies. 
"Though the study is the first of its kind to explore the impact of teen-specific art programs in museums, it reflects other research on the tangible benefits of engaging with the arts. A decade of surveys by the National Endowment for the Arts found that childhood experience with the arts is significantly associated with their income and educational attainment as adults. Other studies have linked arts education to everything from lower drop-out rates to boosts in critical thinking skills and cultural mobility."