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!

1 comment:

  1. Megan, you make some good observations about the gender gaps we find in the content of various museum genres and exhibit subjects. I'm looking forward to seeing how this same insight informs your semester project on women's contributions during WWII. On the one hand, military and war history is usually popular among male audiences, but female historical topics rarely are. It would be an interesting challenge to develop an exhibit that is aimed at both audiences equally.