I am fundamentally a shy person. As a child, I would hide from my tiny, adorable, very friendly grandmother because the three people in my immediate family seemed like more than enough people in my world, thank you very much.
And yet I now approach total strangers on a daily basis and ask them if I can help. Others in the museum world have referred to this as The Magic Vest Phenomenon, where the museum staff wears some signal (such as a vest) that says ”I work here! And I want to help you.”
Next time you visit our museum, look for someone wearing a shiny red “ASK ME” button. Of course, we don’t have all of the answers, but we’ll certainly try to help you.
I work on online outreach educational materials for Smithsonian’s History Explorer, but my button is a nice reminder that I can contribute to making our visitors feel welcome, even just on a small scale. To me, the buttons are really concrete ways that we can show visitors we care about you.
Thanks for coming to visit us, in person or online. We’re glad you came. Let us know if we can help.
Jenny Wei is an education specialist at the National Museum of American History.