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. 

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