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.

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