Monday, November 22, 2010

Project Update

Finished and ready to turn in!

Nina Simon and Collaboration

Chapter 7 “Collaborating with Visitors” by Nina Simon in her book The Participatory Museum has a lot of important ideas museum officials should consider when developing an exhibition. I like how Simon always does a couple Case Studies to give the readers an actual example of what she is talking about. In this chapter I really liked the collaborating museum project called Investigating Where We Live at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. It would be a fun project for all ages even though this one was targeted at high school students. This project had “thirty teenagers working with museum staff to create a temporary exhibitions of photographs and creative writing about a D.C. neighborhood” (page 233).

I believe this would be a fun project for almost all ages because most people care about the community they live in and they want others to appreciate it as much as they do. I personally think it would be fun to go around in my neighborhood taking photos and interviewing the citizens. This project was such a great community project for the school, which is another reason I liked this project so much. It is always a great idea to have museums and schools collaborating with one another when it comes to community projects. They are two of the best institutions for the job.

Nina Simon broke down in her chapter how to make a collaborating project successful. Simon is a big believer in visitors working hand in hand with the museum, so the visitor always has the most memorable experiences when going to the museum. She states why institutions should engage in collaborative projects, the two kinds of collaborations, and the staff roles in collaborations when discussing collaboration exhibitions/project in chapter 7. I suppose I like these collaborations project so much is because I fall more under the education department in museums. I always think it is more enjoyable when you are on a tour to actually use your brain and test your creative abilities. Collaboration projects are more pleasant than walking around an exhibition just looking at photos and old objects because those things do not excite everyone. Just my opinion.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Making Museums Work for Visitors

In Chapter 10 “Making Museums Work for Visitors” of John Falk’s book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience was very informative from a museum studies perspective. Falk broke down the needs of each type of museum visitors. There are five categories of museum visitors Falk goes into detail about:

  1. Explorers
  2. Facilitators
  3. Experience Seekers
  4. Professional/Hobbyists
  5. Rechargers

John Falk states, “Each individual visitor is equally capable of enacting any of these visit motivations on any given day. The key to making your museum work is understanding what motivates each visitor to your museum on that particular day and then, ensuring that the experiences they have with exhibits, programs, staff, and museum amenities fulfill the needs determined by those motivations” (page 231). For each group of visitors Falk breaks down the type of experience each one demands. The problem (for me) is each group wants something different, it seems incapable for the museum to compromise. This group wants to read the labels, this one does not care about the labels - this group loves the gift shops, this group does not want to visit the gift shop - this group wants to be in a quiet place to recharge and view the content, this group normally comes in a social group and spends most of their time socializing than viewing the contents - and so on…

Where does a museum find a some type of agreement?

It bothered me that Falk’s “back-up plan” was the Internet, using the museum website to further the museum experience. In my own personal experience a visitor will use the internet for directions and admission costs that is the only time they use the museum’s website prior to their arrival.  Afterwards, I might use it if one of the docents mentioned an upcoming program or exhibit but that is IF they only mentioned it and did not hand me a pamphlet.  Yet, I do not disagree completely with Falk’s ideas on the Internet. I believe museums’ website are excellent sources for schools, students, and museum professions. But the “average Joe” who visits the museum, I do not know if they will access the website once they return to their home.

          I appreciated that John Falk broke everything down for the reader. It was easier for me to compare the different types of museum visitors and what they needed out of their museum experience. It seems overall that each individual who enters the museum Explorers to Rechargers just wants to have a great museum experience.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Project Update

This week I worked on my storyboard, I already had most of the materials. I just needed to find some things like photos and such. Hopefully, I will have my storyboard finished this weekend. I am also working on my prototypes. I am having my mother help me sew the bean bag prototype. I need to think of some other prototypes. I might need help with some ideas. Next week I am going to get started on my dossier. If I finish my storyboard this weekend and know everything that is going to be included in the exhibition then I can start on my budgeting. While I was searching for materials I kept “tabs” on prices such as:  the paint, fabrics, furniture, etc. Slowly I am getting everything finished.

Question: Do I need to go to Sherman Williams and get individual samples of the black and white colors I have chosen?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Contributory Projects and Attracting Audiences

In Nina Simon’s book The Participatory Museum I came up with a contributory project for my exhibition when I was reading “Visitors as Contributors” chapter six. When I read about the exhibits called Darkened Waters and Memory Lab it gave me an idea. Darkened Waters an exhibition about the Exxon Valdez oil spill the contributory project “featured comment boards and books that quickly filled with debate and discussion among visitors” (page 210). The contributory project for Memory Lab invited visitors to “contribute their own artifacts and stories” (page 211) for its museum dedicated to Jewish art and history. My idea for Teddy’s Menagerie is going to be based on Theodore Roosevelt’s letters to his children. Visitors are either going to pick a letter from Roosevelt or one of his children and write a letter in return OR the visitor can write a letter to the President or one of the children asking questions that the exhibition did not answer or it could be about something they saw or heard in the exhibit that they liked.  The letters could be “mailed” to the Roosevelt family OR posted outside the Green Room for other visitors to read.

I also enjoyed John Falk’s chapter on “Attracting and Building Audiences” in his book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. He was explaining how the visitors are the heart of the museum and how there is a growing department in the museum for these visitors. Falk goes into detail about marketing, how museums are becoming market driven. Hiring full time marketing staff to try to attract and retain audiences for the museum. The problem is the reason why visitors come to the museum is because of “word of mouth recommendation” not because of the great objects and the successful marketing of exhibits.  Normally the museum visitor does not even know the content in the museum. The decision to go to a museum is normally a group decision where the one member heard about the museum through another friend or family member. Falk concluded the best marketing task is to make sure the present visitor is having an excellent and enjoyable time so the “word of mouth recommendation” continues. This chapter was very useful and I believe it will benefit for further museum exhibitions. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Storyboard...bum bum bummm

This Saturday I am going with Jessica to shop for fabrics, swatches, paint strips, and other things for our storyboard. We are planning on going to Sherman Williams to look at their color schemes and then we are heading to Jo Ann Fabrics to buy some swatches. Then later we will probably stop at a craft store to look for designs and nick-nacks for the storyboard as well. I have changed my mind I think I am going to finish my storyboard before I start my dossier. I think the storyboard will give me a better understanding about my exhibit and that will be more helpful for when I start my dossier. I have couple of questions:
  1. On the storyboard do you want a list that will have examples of artifacts, painting, etc that will be in the exhibit?  Or does this go into the dossier?
  2. Is there a recommended size for the storyboard?
  3. Does the prototypes of brochures, quizzes, evaluations, any type of paper documents go with the dossier or the storyboard…or does it matter?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where Should You Put Your Question? Seriously?

In Nina Simon’s chapter on Social Objects she has a section on “Personal Questions in Exhibitions”. To me this section goes into way too much detail; it goes all the way down to where to even put the questions. Stating it is “important to design spaces for response that are comfortable and minimize distractions” (page 149). To me this is getting into way too much detail. I understand museums want the best and honest answers they can get from their audience but are placing questions by the mummy or by the mummification tools really going to make a difference? Or what the museum visitor writes with (pen or crayon) does that really matter? Simon states the goal is to encourage a large percentage of visitors to respond to questions. Well, let’s just say then if the visitor answer the questions they can get a 5% discount at the gift store on their next visit. That will motivate them to answer the questions and to also return to “let’s say” the next upcoming exhibit so they can use their discount. Maybe, it is just me but I think Nina Simon is thinking way too much into the question-evaluations. Just find a “simple” way for the museum visitors to respond to the questions, that’s all. End it there.