This is the second post in a series about the names of ACM member organizations.
By far the most common characteristic of a name for Association of Children's Museum member organizations is a reference to the type of place it is. In the 2007 member directory 253 of these organizations call themselves “museums”.
The second most popular element for a name is a reference to audience; specifically children. 224 (of 310 total) organizations use the word “Children” in their name.
This may not be surprising - these are ACM members. But when I counted the number of times the two words appear together in a name as in “Children’s Museum” it turned out to be only 214. This means there are fewer instances of the phrase “children’s museum,” than there is of either of these words on their own.
When location is added to this, as in “children’s museum of ____” or “____ Children’s Museum,” the number drops again to only 165.
So the name that I think of as forumulaic for ACM organizations turns out only to represent 53% of all members. That is a majority, but it leaves quite a lot of room for other types of names as well.
So What Names Are We Seeing?
Many ACM member organizations, it turns out, are using key words like “museum,” “children,” and reference to their region in combination with other less common words. So, for instance, 70 of the 310 organizations refer to themselves as a type of place other than a museum – a “town”, “center”, “works”, “neighborhood,” etc.
28 use “youth,” “family,” “junior,” “child” and “kids,” rather than “children.” Further, “kids”, the second most popular choice after “children”, shows up in a variety of inventive forms like Club Kid’doo, KidZone Museum, Kids ‘N’ Stuff: An Interactive Experience for Kids, Kidcity Children’s Museum, Kidspace Children’s Museum, KidsQuest Children’s Museum and Kidzu Children’s Museum.
Organizations are also combining location with creative words in their name. The Imaginarium of South Texas, Explorium of Lexington, and The Magic House, St. Louis’ Children’s Museum, are all examples of this.
This brings us to another important descriptor in many of these organization’s names: the visitor experience. Some organizations use their name to highlight the type of activity they offer. 121 talk about discovery, exploration, imagination, wonder, adventure, culture, art, science and citizenship. Of those, only 41 use “discovery,” while the majority focus on another quality of the experience such as imagination, wonder, and play. This category includes some of the most fanciful names in the bunch so more on this later in this series.
Doing the Math
So looking just at the big categories then:
299 ACM member organizations that identify themselves as a specific type of destination
242 ACM member organizations that refer to their target audience in some way
206 ACM member organizations that include their geographic location in their name
121 ACM member organizations that describe what you DO when you get there