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.


I feel like I am at a roadblock with my finals project. I want to start my dossier or my storyboard but I have no idea where to begin. Any suggestions? I know I should have my color story, scale floor plan, and design details but I feel like I am stuck and have no clue on which way to head. And the written dossier I have no idea what my objectives or goals are, right now they sound the same. I think if I am guided in the right direction I might be able to get a move on with this thing. But for right now can you point me in the right direction?

Also, can you send me an example of a small dossier?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Berlin Museum Breaks Nazi Taboo...

This has nothing to do with the Falk or Simon readings, or even the final project.

In some of my courses this semester it seems as if I have been getting a lot of questions from my professors on dealing with difficult exhibits.  Things on: How would I handle an exhibit that is uncomfortable for the public/community? Would I put in unsettling objects and materials in an exhibit? For example, the film Amistad would I display it openly in an exhibit on African slavery?
It was a bit ironic when I came across this video in my "Google Alerts-Museums" this week. I wanted to share this video because I believe it is important to note that some museums do take risky chances on risky material that NEED to be re-recognized to the public. No matter how disturbing it might be. AND who else is better to educate the public than a creditable museum.

Berlin Museum Breaks Nazi Taboo with Hitler Exhibit

Not Set In Stone?

While I was reading Chapter 10 in Nina Simon’s book The Participatory Museum on the “Evaluating Participatory Projects”; I began to realize when doing interactive elements, evaluations, and even exhibits it is not always set in stone. Museum professionals can change the goals, objectives, target audience, communication between visitor and docent, the interpretations, and more in their institution. I just never really fully realized when doing an exhibit it does not have to be down to a “complete science.” Evaluations can be useful for all institutions, I just did not realize the different forms and outcomes there are when dealing with evaluations on the museum experience.

I was very interested in the continual evaluations Nina Simon discussed in the chapter. She stated, “Continual evaluation can also provide a useful feedback loop that generates new design insights that can ultimately lead to better visitor experiences.” (Page 316) So, my question is: When doing an exhibit or even a program should the form of evaluation always be the –continual evaluation- so there is that constant NEW insight each time? OR Should the evaluations have a permanent outline with the definite goals and limited outcomes – like the honeycomb diagram on page 304?

SURVEY...and the Responses

This week for my project I created a survey. I posted the survey on Facebook and so far I have gotten about 20 responses. I have noticed a quite of few people replied No to Question #12:
“Hypothetically, if you were a parent would you be interested in taking your children to a museum where there was an exhibit of Theodore Roosevelt’s children and their pets? 
            *If you answer NO why not?”

Some of the reasons were:
  1. NO, because I would like to know more about President Roosevelt but I don’t think what kind of pets his children had makes much difference.
  2. No. I don’t see why that is so important for them to learn?
  3. No cas I wld rather show them something else
  4. No – because I think there are a lot more important things that I’d want my kids to know about Theodore Roosevelt (like how he created the nat’l park system and stuff) instead of just about his kids and pets.

With these responses I decided my exhibit is going to be on Theodore Roosevelt and what he accomplished during his presidency. The Roosevelt children and their pets are still going to be a part of the exhibit but it will not be the main focus. The accomplishments can be for the parents and the children but the interactive participatory can be on the Roosevelt children and pets. It will be an interactive filled with fun facts.
Sound good?

Project Update - My Survey

1. True/False: Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States of America?

2. Theodore Roosevelt participated in which war?
  1. World War One
  2. Civil War
  3. Spanish-American War
  4. World War Two
3. Theodore Roosevelt was a Vice President to which American President?
  1. William Taft
  2. Grover Cleveland
  3. William McKinley
  4. James Garfield
 4. How many children did Theodore Roosevelt have? 
  1. 6
  2. 7
  3. 5
  4. 4
 5. The maiden name of Theodore Roosevelt’s first wife?
  1. Edna Kendall Lee
  2. Anna Hathaway Lee
  3. Alice Hathaway Lee
  4. Alva Lee Hathaway
 6. The maiden name of Theodore Roosevelt’s second wife?
  1. Edna Kerwin Carow
  2. Anna Hathaway Lee
  3. Ellen Kendall Caron
  4. Edith Kermit Carow
 7. True/False: Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize?

8. True/False Roosevelt was the first president to ride in a car, fly in a plane, and travel in a submarine.

9. True/False: The “Teddy Bear” has nothing to do with Theodore Roosevelt.

10. Would you be interested in going to see an exhibit on an American President?

11. Would you be interested in learning about Theodore Roosevelt’s children and their menagerie of pets?

12. Hypothetically, if you were a parent would you be interested in taking your children to a museum where there was an exhibit of Theodore Roosevelt’s children and their pets? 
            *If you answer no why not?

13. What is your favorite American Presidential Historical Site? Why?

Gender: Male/Female
Age:      5-18
Ethnicity (option) ___________
Zip Code ____________

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Museum Experience and Memories

It was ironical to read Falk’s chapter on Memories because my prior readings and postings I related my museum experiences of those I had as a child.  In this chapter John Falk came to the conclusion that the things people see and do in museums are most memorable because museums are places that give people the opportunity to build tangible memories based on seeing real things in appropriate contexts. (Page 153) Falk continues by also saying that the things people see and do in museums are memorable because they occur during emotionally positive and rich times in people’s lives which makes them highly significant and perceived as vital information.  The experiences allow visitors to become engaged at intellectually and emotionally proper levels. An important fact is that the visitors can exercise considerable choice and control over what they see and do increases the likelihood that a visitor will find exhibitions and programs that are intellectually and emotionally appropriate for them. Together, these personas make visitor experiences appropriate for them.
            As I visit a museum I head towards the things I am most familiar with, things I can relate too. I head towards these things first because I am more comfortable with things I know. As the tour goes on I will venture towards the things I am less familiar with to learn something new that I might take with me when I leave the museum. For example, if I go to an Art Museum (Art something that is altogether out of my realm) I will go to the artists and paintings I am more familiar with like Claude Monet. I will look and study his paintings first, I am more comfortable looking at them because I did a report on him my sophomore year in high school in my art class. Later, I would start to examine other paintings I am less familiar with. I would try to understand their work and technique, so when I leave the exhibit I will leave with more information than when I came. I will have a better experience at this Art Museum than any other because I had a choice on what I looked at. I had the opportunity to have the control on what paintings I would admire first and which I would admire last. Like any other visitor at a museum, I like to have the control on the time, which I would be allowed to spend as much time as I want to examine the exhibit. I want to have the choice in what I want to see. I agree with Falk that choice, control, and emotion in a museum visit is the most important aspects in the memory of an individual’s museum experience.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Final Project Update - Problem

I am having difficulty in deciding on actual “objects” for my exhibit. I have a ton of photos I know I would like to use.  I am just having difficulties on deciding what types of actual objects I can use. I came up with things like toys, clothes, and books. I need to research other museums or brainstorm with someone. This is all I have for this week for my final project. No new ideas, just stuck on what to use.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Satisfaction and Personalization

“What does not satisfy when we find it was not the thing we were desiring.”
-         C.S. Lewis

When John Falk opened Chapter 5 Satisfaction with this quote it made me realized the only way to satisfy a visitor who comes to the museum is if that visitor has a specific goal in mind when he or she arrives. If a teenager is being dragged to an Art Museum with their grandparents it is going to be a lot harder for that teen to receive any sort of satisfaction from the trip. But, if that same teenager goes to the same Art Museum with her friends to see a specific piece of work, there will be a higher chance of that teenager receiving satisfaction. This is how I interpret C.S. Lewis’ quote from a museum perspective. There needs to be a specific goal or aim on entering a museum. The visitor needs to almost come prepared before the exhibit with the knowledge of what they want to see or receive from their visit, to obtain that full satisfaction sentiment.
            John Falk’s example was Shawn and his girlfriend’s visit to the nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. When going to the National Museum of Natural History Shawn and his girlfriend both had an idea of what they wanted to see: Hope Diamond and the Dinosaurs. Even when entering the museum they knew they want to see the Hope Diamond and that is the direction they headed off in first. Because they saw everything they wanted to see and receiving more in the process (such as the meteorites) Shawn when rating how satisfied he was with his visit he gave the museum the highest score, a seven. Receiving more satisfaction than Shawn expected when he went to the National Museum of Natural History is similar to Nina Simon’s opinion on personalization, Shawn was able to expand his knowledge on geology and his interest in dinosaurs.
            Nina Simon talks about personalization in her book The Participatory Museum. She states “Personalization doesn’t just give you what you want. It exposes you to new things, and it gives you a vocabulary for articulating and refining why you like what you like.” (Page 65).  For me, when I go to museums I go because I love to see how simple things such as a shovel can have the greatest meaning and greatest importance for a person or the museum. That shovel could be the shovel that first broke the soil for the building of the town’s hospital that is now the top hospital in the nation. Something that is seen and used everyday can be of major importance in the future. I always wondered when looking at artifacts from a painter or writer if they ever thought that (for example) the pen or paintbrush they were using when end up in a glass case in a museum. It makes me leave the museum and wonder if “my pencil” or my diary will end up in a museum in the future. Personalization for me is reminding me why I love going to all types of museums from science museums to history museums. Each museum has something that is of major importance to someone in the world even though it has no importance to me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ohio Historical Society

On Thursday September 30, 2010, I went to the Ohio Historical Society to a Internship Program Planning Meeting. While I was there I looked at OHS's exhibit and got a few ideas for my final project. They had objects and artifacts from the Great Lakes and a map. They had a signage (by the objects) it was a True or False asking “Nearly all of Ohio’s lakes were built by people” to find the answer the visitor had to press a screen and watch a short video called “Water, Water Everywhere”. They also had multiple choice signages. I thought I could do something similar, ask visitors question on the Roosevelt children or their pets. I can make a prototype of the label and a summary of the video for when i show my project to the "board".
I am still undecided on my color scheme for the exhibit. I think once I make an outline of everything I want in the exhibit it will be easier deciding on the color scheme. So for next week’s blog that is my goal: to have a list of my objects and pictures that will be in the exhibit/project.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Update

“Teddy’s Menagerie” is mostly going to be an exhibit for children; I want to start thinking of ideas of interactive displays. I know I want to have story times and games but I need more ideas.  The books used for story time will be books like: Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt by Leslie Kimmelman, What to do about Alice? By Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham, The President’s Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and anymore that I can find. I am starting to research the types of games the Roosevelt children use to play and see if I can use any of them in my exhibit.  I do not know if I want to use a character for my exhibit…for example one of the Roosevelt children’s dog. I was also thinking of maybe doing a Adopt a Pet day or something…once a month a pet organization will come with similar pets of the Roosevelt children and visitors can talk with the organization on ways they can help animals in need or something. I don’t know where I am going with this or if this is even a good idea. Just a thought. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Treating People as Individuals
In Nina Simon’s book The Participatory Museum she says museum visitors want to be treated as an individual and that it is the starting point for enjoyable community experience. No one wants to enter a museum and be treated as a faceless visitor. The goal for a museum is to try to have their visitors express their own identity on entering the premises, to describe what is unique about their self.  
Shirts, name tags, buttons, stickers, etc. are wearable identities; they are the simplest and most flexible forms of self-identification. I just read an article where a child and his family won a “Golden Ticket” to go to Glazer Children’s Museum, to me this can be a way to give visitors an identity, make them feel like winners. "It's so much awesome": Big Dreams at Glazer Children's Museum I suppose it is easier to make a child feel welcome and feel like a kid when they are at a children’s museum and are surrounded by toys, games, and fun activities. The Glazer Children’s Museum has a pretend fire truck with suits and hoses, an airplane with a pilot screen showing aerial views of Tampa Bay, and a maze called Water’s Journey. How can a kid not fell welcome?
Also, with children they still have not established an identity, they are still experiencing. Meaning, children will not be able to give a museum a unique characteristic about their selves. With adults I believe is a little harder to find their uniqueness. This is where the wearable identities come into focus.
My personal experiences in visiting museums, I have not yet experienced the self-identification. I have done the “What Did You Think?” cards at the end of the tour but most of the time I am left to wander as the faceless visitor. No name tags, no buttons, no stickers, shirts, etc. the only thing that I can think of that is remotely close is buying my tickets at the front desks. Sometimes they will ask where I come from, what college I go to, what is my major, what is the meaning of my visit, and so on. Next time I visit a museum I will see if they try to treat me as an individual or treat me like another faceless visitor.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Creating A New Identity Through Participatory Experiences

In John Falk’s book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience chapter 3 The Visitor helped me get an understanding on how I should do my final project for “Teddy’s Menagerie.” Falk states people main reasons on going to a museum are three things: desire to satisfy one’s intellectual curiosity; desire to be a good parent, and to escape. Hopefully, the desire to be a good parent will be the main reason why visitors will like to come to “Teddy’s Menagerie” since the target audience will be children. The Participatory Museum a book by Nina Simon helps me comprehend the goals of a participatory mechanism, etcetera. Since my exhibit is for children I will need to have a lot of hands on, interactive, participatory components. While reading I realized that not only do I have to come up with ideas for the children but also the parents or teachers, Unfortunately I am still working on that because so far I have no ideas, researching other children’s museums participatory components is how I am going to solve this issue, to see what they do.
                While reading both of these reading assignments I tried to think of the most memorable thing I did at a museum when I was a child. The first thing that came to mind was Carnegie’s Museum of Natural History; they had an exhibit on Ancient Egypt. They had a sand pit with tools, brushes, shifters, etc. and they wanted children to experience what it would be like to be an archeologist digging through the dirt/sand trying to find broken pottery or other exciting artifacts. But my favorite thing was we had the chance to crawl through a very small tight tunnel that led to a room that turned out to be a crypt, where an actual mummy was hidden with all of his treasures he wanted to be taken with him to the afterlife. It was so amazing! I remember how small and tight the tunnel was. How I had to weave through the turns and how the tunnel wasn’t a flat surface, but that it was bumpy and it dipped down or up. But most importantly how high my adrenaline was because I so badly wanted to get out of the tunnel that  when I reached the crypt I was so excited for the space  I barely recognized the mummy but when I did I knew the claustrophobia I just experienced was worth it.
                This interactive made me and my fellow students feel like real archaeologists and real explorers. It gave us a chance to experience a new identity, to learn something new and having fun doing it. This is what I want to happen when children visit “Teddy’s Menagerie” to feel like they were a part of the family’s many adventures. To feel life they are a son or daughter of President Roosevelt’s to feel as free, wild, and independent as any of them. This is my goal.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Age: 5-15; 25-45(parents and teachers)
Sex: mixed
Race/Ethnicity: mixed
Size of Family: ?
Education Level: Kindergarten-Junior High
Income Level: average $66,000 yearly
Geography: mixed

My exhibit will be called “Teddy’s Menagerie” I still haven’t decided where I want it to be exhibited. I do know that this exhibit is important because it will inform the public about one of America’s most famous and wild families that lived in the White House. 
Theodore had six children: Alice, Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin, but each one was wild and outgoing in every way possible. The most popular was Alice because of her spirited behavior and her being “allergic to discipline” always made her a target for publicity. President Roosevelt even said "I can either manage Alice or the country. I can't do both.” There are also many stories about the children and their menagerie of pets, stories of bringing snakes to parties or office meetings to riding a pony in the White House elevator. I believe children and even adults would love to learn about the Roosevelt Family and how they shocked the nation. It is always important to remember our nation Presidents and their families.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Project Update (2)

From what we learned last week in class, I figure I should start my strategic planning. I figure I should start out with what my goals are going to be, for my exhibit “Teddy’s Menagerie”

1.) To educate the public on our nation’s 26th President Theodore Roosevelt’s children and their pets.

2.) Tell Roosevelt stories to get children interested in history.

3.) Have children and adults understand the differences in the household and family during Roosevelt’s time from the modern era.

I am having trouble on how to finance this exhibit; I do not have any ideas on how to sell this exhibit to a board or committee. I know this is one of the important steps in strategic planning, but I think I need a couple of ideas. See you Monday and have a wonderful weekend!

Project Update (1)

I am still unsure about the whole concept of the final project. But, so far my idea is going to relate to one of the programs we were going to do at the National First Ladies' Library. I did my internship at NFLL this summer under Lucinda "Cyndee" Frailley we were going to do three children's summer reading programs but they were cancelled due to the lack of kids. One of the programs was going to be on President Theodore Roosevelt's children and their pets. I started the research but once the program was cancelled I did not finish.

The audience will be children and their parents and the museum will mostly be a History Museum or something similar. I am not sure if this is what you wanted for the weekly project update or if I have the wrong idea for the project. So this is why I am sending the email early. So if it is wrong I can send you another one "hopefully correct" for tomorrow. If it is possible can you send me a type of rubric you want for this project. If possible thank you but if not that is okay. See you Monday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finding An Identity

John Faulk states that the focus of Americans is drifting away from the workplace and is heading towards leisure, “from striving for survival to searching for personal fulfillment and satisfaction” (page 44). In his book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience he describes leisure becoming more centered upon a quest for something larger and something more fulfilling, a quest for identity. Individuals are seeking to build their knowledge and finding his or her personal or group identity.

As a child and teen growing up in a small country town, living in a rural community there was never many museums, zoos, or amusement parks nearby. But, when we did make a 2-4 hour drive to spend a day or a weekend at a museum, zoo, or amusement park it was one of the one things we remember about that year. After spending a day in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Museum or Columbus Zoo I would always run home to tell my family, friends, and everyone about the things I saw and learned that day. It was like that wherever I went, I would always wanted to share my experience, i would show everybody the photos I took and the stories behind the image.

Living on a farm, my family and I never got that much leisure time but when we did it was always spectacular. Just the idea that we schedule the time to be together, to learn together, and experience new things together is what always made it the most memorable. We created a family identity that way but at the same time we also created our own personal identity. Probably because of those few but yet special memorable experiences at museums, zoos, and amusement parks is maybe one of the main reasons why I decided to be a museum studies major.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Museum Visitors September 6, 2010

As I read Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience by John H. Falk it made me realize how much museums rely on their visitors, as Falk stated on page 35 “visitors are the museum and the museum is the visitor”. Falk’s goal is to help change the quality of how museums understand and support the public’s museum visitor experiences. Falk has three questions he believes if museums knew the answer they would gain critical insights into how the public derives value and benefits from museum visits. The three questions are:

1. Who goes to museums?

2. What visitors’ do once they are in the museum?

3. What meaning does visitors make from the experience?

On August 14, 2010 I went on a Bus Trip that was organized by the National First Ladies’ Library (NFLL) one of the places we visited on the trip was Cleveland’s Zoo, to see the Rainforest exhibit. The ladies that accompanied the trip were a majority of older women, senior citizens, and on that day it was hot. It was a typical day for Ohio in August, about ninety-three degrees Fahrenheit. The women were not interested in the zoo or its exhibit. From what I observed they looked at the animals for about 30 seconds then walked onwards. They did not read the labels or observe the animals closely. They had about two hours at the Rainforest but most finished the tour in about an hour. They sat at the cafeteria to wait for the bus, which was to depart to Hudson for lunch.

What meaning did they receive from the visit? Who knows? Who is at fault? The zoo? NFLL? Weather? The question I really want to know is how does a museum “force” (in some way) their visitors to look closely at their exhibits even when their visitors are uncomfortable. How can a museum control something that is uncontrollable? Like the weather? Or age?

Museums that are outdoors like: zoos, botanical gardens, or Colonial Williamsburg how do you create a universal design when a thing like weather does not always fall under your favor. From my experience the simple thing like it being too hot out, was the answer to why the women that day on the bus trip left the Rainforest without receiving any true meaning from the exhibit.