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.