Monday, September 27, 2010

Museums and Facebook?!

In the readings from Nina Simon this week, she made a good point about making museums relevant to every different group of visitors that come to your museum. You need to have something to spark their interest and keep them coming back to visit... or at least telling their friends about  what they liked. She says that your museum needs to be more audience centered to make it friendly to these people. She kept mentioning about social networking that allows museums to keep in contact with everyone. As soon as she said this, I couldn't help but think of Facebook. It seems like everyone has a page nowadays, including museums. I know that I am a fan of several local museums on Facebook and am constantly receiving updates from them about programs, exhibits, discounts etc. I've even seen trivia questions posted as statuses to win free prizes or tickets. To me, it seems like the perfect idea. You can find out so much about a person by posting on your museum's Facebook something like "What do you like most about us?" or "what do you dislike most?" Anyone can answer, and some people will be very honest about their experiences at your museum. It would make things so much easier for you to get an understanding of what makes people happy and unhappy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Other Ideas for the project

I know that if I were actually putting on an exhibit, I would definitely need other ideas and designs for it, not just the objects on display. I thought about some audio visual pieces for it. Maybe oral history interviews with women who were involved in the workforce during World War II. My only reservation is that videos can be boring sometimes! But it would definitely go along with the exhibit itself.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Making Memorable Visitor Experiences

While reading Falk and Simon's books on identifying and catering to the specific needs of museum visitors, I couldn't help but think how difficult it really is to please visitors. Both Falk and Simon gave different ideas on ways to not only get the visitor involved, but also to get an idea of what kinds of people visit your museum. I think conducting interviews (like the one Falk did at the National Gallery on pages 91-100) is a great way to get an understanding of who comes, but I can say from personal experience that by the time a visitor is approached about taking a survey, they are usually tired, ready to leave and not willing to take those extra few minutes. While I was working at one particular museum as a volunteer/intern, I was assigned to sit at a table during an event and try to get visitors to fill out a survey about their visit. The survey only took about 3-5 minutes... but the more people I asked, the more rejections I got. This particular museum usually takes about 1 1/2 hours to look through, but this particular weekend they were hosting their largest event of the year and we're expecting thousands of people. So between waiting in line for tickets, and then slowly actually getting to see the museum, most visitors were probably staying about 2-3 hours. And of course, don't forget the gift shop with all of the fun souvenirs... and more long lines. I was not counting at the time, but I would say that about every 100 people that I asked about filling out the survey, maybe only 5-10 did it. I think using more creative ways to determine who your audience is and what they like is probably more efficient and even a little more exciting for the visitors than filling out a survey that says what they like/didn't like about their visit!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oh Rosie...

For this upcoming class we were to come up with an interpretive label for our exhibits. I wasn't sure what to use until I found a painting of Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell. At first I thought it was kind of interesting because it is so different from the Rosie picture released by the War Production Co-Ordinating Committee in 1943. But when one of my room mates saw the picture, she pointed out a few things that really angered me. First off, if you were to take out Rosie's head in the Rockwell photo, she has the body of a man. And second, in her left hand she is holding a sandwich. Really Rockwell?! What is that supposed to mean?!?! Well as angry as I was about it, I decided to use it anyways. As an interpretive label I thought I could use the Rockwell version as well as the famous Rosie and let my "visitors" decide for themselves what they think and which Rosie looks more realistic to them!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Exhibit Development and Design Project

So for my project for Exhibit Development and Design, I was thinking about incorporating a part of history that I really like into the exhibit. I was originally thinking of doing something related to Rosie the Riveter because I love World War II history, especially anything that relates to the female contribution. At first I wasn't sure if that's what I really wanted to do, but I have decided to do it. I was worried I wouldn't find enough sources and artifacts for this pseudo-exhibit... but the more I think about it the better it sounds. I think if I was actually making a real exhibit on Rosie, I would definitely be able to find plenty of pieces for it! I'm very excited about this project because I feel like it's way past due for an exhibit that credits women for what they did during World War II.

Museum Identity

In his book, "Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience," John Falk cites a study done by Kristin Ellenbogen about families visiting museums together. Her study came to the conclusion that families go to visit museums to build identity, especially an identity as a family. I definitely have to agree with this study. Throughout my life, my family and I always visited museums on vacation (maybe that's why I'm going into the museum field?!). Vacations to the ocean or over-the-top tourist spots were always too expensive, and kind of boring! Growing up in Cleveland we had plenty of museums within our reach and no matter what day of the week it was, they were always exciting places where we could have fun and learn at the same time. I feel as if we are some of the only people that still do that though. Even in his book, Falk stated that many Americans would prefer to go to beaches (page 42) on vacation. I can't even imagine how bored I would be sitting in a sand pit for a week straight when I can find about ten better things to do... like visit a museum! I feel though that all the times I have spent in a museum with my family really have shaped who we are. I can count those experiences as some of the most memorable because we were out doing something and learning something together!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pleasing Visitors...

While reading the assigned pages for John Falk's book "Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience and Nina Simon's book, "The Participatory Museum", I decided that I have to agree with what both authors are saying. It is extremely difficult to understand the reactions of guests when it comes to different exhibits. Based on even my own experience of working in museums, I can understand the problems that arise. When I worked as an intern at a sports museum, kids (especially boys) loved it. If they liked the particular sport, and understood it, they seemed to be in seventh heaven. Kids also loved the last part of the museum where they could play all sorts of different video games related to the museum. But young girls and women do not seem to enjoy it as much as the men. If they are like me, and don’t like most sports to begin with, they would not even have an interest in it. The same goes for different groups of people. Fans of different teams or of different sports would have different experiences in the exhibits.
The same held true for my experience as a docent at a women's history museum. Men always seem to hate coming because they say "dresses aren’t their thing." Women on the other hand, always seem to have a good experience because it represents more than just dresses, but also the struggles and achievements of women throughout history. Kids however, are always a challenge. Most children have no interest in women’s history. But kids still come to the museum. Catering to their wants and needs can always be a huge problem because they have such short attention spans. I want to make sure that they can learn something while they’re there, but it is difficult. We would usually give most kids a scavenger hunt that keeps them alert and focused for the different items to find, but only younger children are interested in them. Once kids get to about fourth or fifth grade, they don’t want to do scavenger hunts anymore, but what else is there to give them?!
That is definitely one of my goals for this class, to allow me to find a better way to focus on the needs of everyone, kids and adults, male and female so that more people feel happy and satisfied after visiting a museum!