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.

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