Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nina Simon and Co-Creation

I like the idea of Co-Creation with the community and some of the points Nina Simon makes, but I still feel she puts too much emphasis on the community and visitors doing all of the work. I think co-creation is a great idea but to a certain extent. For example, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. worked with members of all of the tribes featured in the museum to ensure that what they did was accurate and did the tribe justice. I think this is a great idea. Anytime a certain group of people or community or anything along those lines are represented the best way to get your point across is to have them involved. They of course know the content that anyone outside of the group ever could and therefore will make the exhibit that much greater. But even with their involvement in the exhibit I don't think they should have freedom to do whatever they please and there may be certain parts of the exhibit project they should not be involved in. The content and the information would be the most important part of their involvement, even the placement of some of the objects. But they should not have control of everything. There input is extremely important but they should not be in charge. I still feel she relies too strongly on visitors and members of the community. While people who are being exhibit or if their community is being exhibited they may have more motivation to work on such a project but otherwise something like this that is all volunteer, will not be on the top of peoples priority list.

Last Project Update

Well everything is all done! Im finishing up my last few notes for my presentation, but otherwise everything is all ready to go! I cant believe its over already!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nina Simon and her reliance on the visitors

This weeks readings in Nina Simon's book reminded me a lot of the ideas she talked about before where it put a lot of responsibility on the visitors and caused the museum to rely greatly on the visitors. I like a lot of her ideas about collaborating with the visitors and getting them involved in the museum and the exhibit. If people are involved in whats going on and get to have an actual hands on experience they generally remember it better. I feel like she puts too much emphasis on fully relying on the visitors of the museum. As I have said before I personally don't feel comfortable giving visitors that much responsibility and that much freedom to do as they please. While some visitors may take the project seriously and give great input and make a great exhibit or project many others will not. There will also be a problem with visitors not wanting to work together to create a final project and so on. Plus there is still the risk of it not getting done. For museum professionals it is their job to create an exhibit or program and get it done on time. Visitors will only do this work in their free time and may not be able to spare enough time in the day in order to work on the project for something that is not their job and especially something they are not getting paid for. So while I agree with many of Nina Simon's ideas about involving the visitors I think it should be done on a smaller scale so the museum is not completely reliant on their involvement and if they don't get many visitors to participate the project still gets completed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Project Update

Everything with my project is really starting to come together and it feels great! I just have to finish up both my storyboard and dossier and it will be good to go!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More of the Visitors experience...

I liked a lot of what Falk had to say this week but again I am skeptical about some of it. I like how he broke down the different types of visitors and explained a little about what each type of visitor expects upon arriving. I feel as though he really pushes the fact that labels need to be good. He mentions a couple times about the different groups reading the labels for different reasons. But he did not seem to mention the content of the exhibit a whole lot. So it makes me wonder. Is there anything that can be done specifically to the content of the exhibit to make it better accommodate the visitors experience. I also did not like how he made the fact that certain visitors will visit the gift shop such an important topic. I don't think whether or not a museum has a good gift shop or not will make or break whether or not a visitor had a good time. I did like what he had to say about breaking down the visitors experiences but I feel as though he focused on some areas that maybe didn't need as much attention and didn't focus on some that needed it. One of the parts that I question the most is the part that he talks about museums goals are to make visitors happy. I completely agree with this fact but I also think we need to think into it more. If someone comes to an exhibit with an interest in something but not much knowledge and they realize that they knew nothing about the topic wouldn't this make them feel bad about themselves for maybe not being as knowledgeable as another. Or if they think they do know a lot about the topic and learn that they in fact don't, you would think this would make a visitor almost disappointed in themselves. Also some exhibits consist of very difficult subjects matters such as the Holocaust or other horrible tragedies. This may extremely over whelm the visitor and upset them greatly. It doesn't matter what kind of labels or gift shop you have at this point the visitor is upset. While I know with subjects such as the Holocaust the museum itself cant do a whole lot in making sure the visitor stays happy, most people would think something was wrong if people were happy after seeing some of the horrible things involved. I just feel he could have touched more on the content and showed both sides I guess you could say to a visitors experience and ensuring their happiness.

Project Update

Well my project is starting to come along. I went to the store this weekend and picked up some things for my story board and also went to Sherwin Williams and got my paint squares. All that's left is putting that all together, finishing my floor plan along with my dossier!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A little skeptical....

While reading in Nina Simon's book today I found the chapter on Visitors as Contributors interesting but I am also a little skeptical of some of the ideas. First of all I think it is a great idea to allow visitors to contribute to both the exhibits and projects as well as contribute their ideas. We have read so many things this semester that say how much more visitors enjoy themselves when they are able to take an active role in something. A lot of times if you just walk through an exhibit it may be memorable to you but if you go through the exhibit and do an activity you will remember it a little more. And then if you go through an exhibit that you had a little part in and may have a piece of art or something in there, you will always remember it because it is something you had on display. Simon gives an example in her book of the museum that had people but memories such as smells or letters or anything they wanted into bottles to put on display. It was called Bottle It Up! I believe. She mentions the little boy who put multiple bottles in the display and went back every day to rearrange them and encourage the visitors to play with them. He will very likely have this memory for a long time. I also have a personal example of this. A friend of mine is a photographer and told me the other day that a few years ago the Akron Art Museum was doing an exhibit on a famous photographer and asked students and other photographers to take similar photos and they will display them as well. She had two photos in the exhibit. This is something she will remember for a very long time. So I feel that having visitors contribute to projects a great idea. The part that I am skeptical of is completely relying on visitors for the project. She calls this necessary contribution. I feel this is a risky move. People are not always very reliable and you run the risk of the project not getting done in time or at all. If you have plenty of willing people it is not as risky but I feel as though your asking a lot of people to be completely relying on them, especially if it is on their own time. Most of Simon's ideas I like and agree with, I'm just a little skeptical on some.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Project Update

I've been trying to nail down some basics about my project such as colors and what not. Im starting a floor plan on and hoping to have it done to bring to class with me on Monday. Ive been thinking a lot about the exhibit itself as far as content. Originally I was going to focus on the major wars of the United States such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and then Iraq/Desert Storm. My only fear is that it would be a lot of content for a 2,000 sq. foot area. I think Im going to really work on my floor plan and see what kind of artifacts I can find within the next couple of days to really be able to make a decision. I figure if I decide it is too much content then I can stick to just WWII and the Code talkers since Im sure there is a very large amount of objects and information about them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

So many questions...

All of the readings today seemed to be all about asking questions whether it is the visitor asking, or the museum staff doing the asking. I thought the points brought up by both authors were valid as well. I really liked Nina Simon's ideas about the personal questions. A lot of times in museums people think of their personal lives because they will see objects that remind them of parts of their lives. They may see an antique table that looks just like one their grandmother had while they were growing up. Or they may see an outfit belonging to a celebrity and can recall seeing that person wear that specific outfit. So it makes sense as to why people answer the personal questions easier and more drawn out then some other questions that may not pertain to them. It also helps that society has become very self-centered so they are going to be more interested to answer questions about themselves. But I suppose it also helps that answering questions about yourself may not require as much thinking as say a question about any ideas for an exhibit or one that requires a good bit of thinking. They may not want to take the time to stop to think about those questions. So a lot of factors really play into why visitors are more willing to answer questions that are more personal to them. I also liked Falk's questions for "Re-envisioning the museum visitor experience." I think they are valid questions and would really help museums evaluate their typical visitors as well as figure out what will make their museum even better for their visitors. Both authors this week raised some good points about questions in the museum both from the visitor aspect as well as from the museums perspective.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Project Update

Ive been trying to spend some time nailing down some more details on my project. It has honestly been on the back burner at the moment while I'm trying to get other things caught up. After next week though I plan on focusing on it a great deal. I think I have the basic order of the exhibit figured out and the way I hope to have it flow. Other than that the details are still a little sketchy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Project Update

I was just going through some of my responses to my survey. I've gotten a few so far not as many as I had hoped to have but there are still a couple days left. I am pleased by most of the responses, shocked that all of them been right so far and the great interest there seems to be in an exhibit such as this. Its a good confidence booster! Makes me really look forward to the final product.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Visitor Experiences

         Both of the readings really got me thinking today. I really like Nina Simon's chapter on Social Objects. I think Social Objects really help to make the exhibit as well as the visitors experience. These are the objects that really make people think and the objects that will make visitors remember their trip to the museum. If the object sparks discussion among visitors then part of our work as museum professionals has been accomplished. We got the audience involved. Not all objects will be social objects but at least one good social object in an exhibit will make the whole thing just that much better.
         I also enjoyed Falk's piece about museum memories. As I was reading it I couldn't help but to think back to some of my own memories of visiting museums. I remember being in Washington D.C. in 4th grade and visiting all of the Smithsonian museums and I also remember going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time when I was around 8 years old. The trip to the Rock Hall was especially memorable for me because this is when I really got into Rock music which I love now. My aunt from Arizona was in visiting which was the reason we went to the museum and she forced me to listen to AC/DC "Highway to Hell" and ever since then I have loved Rock Music. Some of my more recent museum visits are more clear to me but I do remember a great deal of museum visits from when I was younger even if it is something as silly as remembering going to Burton Village and being amazed simply because since my last name is Burton to me it meant the village was of course named after my family! There is just something about museums that people just love and there is always that one thing that makes you remember the visit, whether its a social object that really made you think or got you into conversation with a fellow visitor or if it is something as simple or childlike as the fact that the village has the same name as your family name.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Project Update

Well unfortunately I have been fairly busy and haven't gotten much time to work on my project a whole lot. I have been thinking about it though. Ive been trying to focus on the participatory aspect at the moment because I want to be sure to think into it as much as possible.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recommendation Engines

         While doing the reading in Nina Simon's book today I really started thinking. Now I cant say I completely understand the point of this chapter because while she has some good ideas, they cant really be used a whole lot in museums. The Recommendation engines seem like they would be a fabulous idea if the funding were available and they were relevant in all museums. These different recommendation engines are great when it comes to other forms of entertainment such as movies, books, or music, but when it comes to museums it becomes a little more difficult. Larger museums are able to do this a little easier because they have multiple galleries and exhibits. So it is much easier for them to tell visitors something like well if you like this object check out this other one that's in this gallery and so on. The art museums she discusses at one point is a larger museum and has the ability to direct the visitor to more impressionist painters or to whatever type of art they like. But when it comes to smaller museums they may only have one exhibit along with the permanent collection so it isn't as easy for them to direct their visitors to other objects that they don't have. The examples she gave were good examples but again not terribly relevant to museums and their visitors. I felt like she was trying to make a point and give ideas about these recommendation engines but she could have done a better job with it. It seemed like she was giving examples that work for other aspects of entertainment but then would throw in a museum as a side not so it could pass in her book. I think the recommendation engines would be good in museums but coming up with one that would actually work is the difficult part. I think if she would have given more examples or ideas, the chapter would have been a little more effective and helpful.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Project Update

Ive been working on some of the story boarding ideas. I think I may have picked my final color scheme but I wouldn't be completely surprised if I change my mind before the project is due. I'm looking into the exhibit spaces at the Smithsonian's National American Indian Museum to see if they do in face have a small exhibit space and if they do I plan on contacting them about their audience. Other than that Ive just been trying to run through some ideas.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Applying the readings to real life.

     As I was reading the books for today I couldn't help but to apply what the authors were talking about to real life. We have been reading a lot about the visitors experience and how many different things the museum has to do to ensure that everyone has a good experience while visiting the museum. I automatically thought about where I have done my internships and the different things we have gone through simply to make sure everyone who walks through our doors has a great experience whether they are simply asking about information or going through a tour. I personally think things could be done a little differently to ensure that everyone does get a good experience. We have had the occasional visitor coming in who will not have a good time no matter what you try to do to change it and in that instance all you can do is your best by giving a good tour and if they leave unhappy its not completely your fault. When a visitor leaves unhappy because you give a bad tour or wrong information or just did not seem terribly personable that is when it is your fault. In my time over the summer giving tours I experienced many types of visitor experiences. On occasion it was the fault of our receptionists that the visitors were unhappy, not necessarily because they were rude but because they had to be the bearer of bad news about tour times or ticket prices or anything along those lines. Other times it is because they didn't get quite what they expected out of the tour. Everyone gives tours differently, so depending on who the person giving the tour is and what their method of doing things is they may not enjoy it as much whereas if someone else were giving the tour they may have enjoyed it more. Some docents like to just lecture you and give you very little time to browse and explore on your own. A lot of people want to be able to just browse on their own and not necessarily go on a tour which causes problems at some museums where you can only take a guided tour. In cases such as this it is best to let them look as much as possible but that doesn't always happen. Basically what I'm trying to say here is that even as an intern and docent for one summer I noticed the difficulties and issues museums face today trying to give people the best experience possible.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Project update

Still been going through a lot of the basics for my project. Ive been trying to do some strategic planning and really pinpoint my audience to make that task even easier. I figure Ill probably have a pretty diverse audience since the exhibit will most likely be in a historical society of some sort. But being able to really pinpoint who will be in my audience will help me go a lot farther in the planning process.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Continuous Struggle of the Visitors Experience.

The readings this week really made me think. I always though creating participatory activities was a difficult task but when the two authors really got into detail about it, it made me realize just how much work actually does go into it. Not only do you have to come up with an idea but you really have to do a lot of thinking. You have to get an activity that isn't just for kids. Activities for kids are easier because it can be very easy to draw their attention to it. If you give a kid the chance to get messy or build something or anything along those lines they are going to want to do it. Adults on the other hand can be more difficult. They aren't going to necessarily want to build something or get messy but they still may enjoy doing some type of activity. I thought the example of the poster making was a great one. Those who attended were able to make their own psychedelic poster to take home and also had the option of hanging it in the museum. Just reading about it made me want to participate! This also made me think more though. Both authors discussed making the participatory activity something that will be in the museum or benefit the museum but what if there isn't a way to incorporate it? Not all museums have the space to display artwork done by visitors or have a way to incorporate their work into the museum or exhibit. Other museums don't have the funds to do such a thing. So how do you create a participatory activity that people will want to take part in and actually feel like they did it for a purpose and it wasn't a waste of time? Most people don't realize just how much thought let alone how much work goes into creating an activity like this. It really gets you thinking just how much of the job consists of simply making the people happy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Project Update

I'm going through a couple different ideas on my project at the moment. On the one hand Im considering working with the National First Ladies Library on their upcoming exhibit. I have worked with the curator for the past year so I'd have a lot of information to work with. But on the other hand I want to start completely from scratch and be extremely creative.

Project Update!

So Ive been thinking a lot more about my project. Im really excited to plan an exhibit about Native Americans in war, I think it should turn out to be really interesting. Im trying to narrow down my focus thoough. Im going to focus on the bigger wars and not necissarily exhibit every single tribe represented. I want to be able to show as much as possible without too much. Im going to start with some of the smaller wars between different tribes and then move along in order focusing on the American Revolution, Civil War and even into WWII and Vietnam. Native Americans played large rolls in these wars but go unnoticed and I want to be able to provide people with information in order to learn more about them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Visitor Participation

Visitor participation is another struggle museums have to face. You may be able to come up with a great participatory activity but will it get the point across? Will people use it as they should? Nina Simons example of the video comment station at a museum in Chicago really is perfect. The video seems like a great idea. You can really get the opinions of your visitors and a lot of ideas for future exhibits that you may not necessarily come across correctly on a simple comment card. But you are always going to have those people who just goof of because they are on camera and think that they are hilarious for doing something stupid on video. So how do you have a good participatory activity without it being taken advantage of or being used as something for people to show off? How do you necessarily make the activity appeal to people of all ages as well as go along with you current exhibit. While the video is a good idea your going to have the people that take advantage of it and you will have the people who may have really good ideas that do not do a video or leave their comments because they are camera shy. But still that does not really get them to participate in the actual exhibit. You want people to leave the museum after a great experience and a lot of times that has to be more than a great tour, you really need to get the people interested and having fun. Great tours are always a good thing but great tours plus being able to actively create something or be involved in what you are learning about makes the experience that much better and that much more memorable. But that is where it becomes more difficult. Activities for kids are always easier because you give them something to color or paint or draw or anything they are having fun, but adults will not necessarily like that. You can have multiple activities but then you risk having too many different things to choose from. It is difficult for museum professionals to make sure not only that every person who enters the museum has as great of a time as absolutely possible but also get them interested and actively participating in what is taking place in the museum. In the end it basically comes down to you doing what you can and hope its enough. And then based off of the feedback you receive you can always change things to make the visitors experience and participation even better.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So Ive been trying to come up with ideas for my project. Ive come up with a couple. Morbid as it may be Im fascinated by war, especially WWII and Vietnam but also music and Native Americans have been so interesting to me lately. I want to know more about my heritage. So one of the ideas Ive come up with is and exhibit about Native Americans and their roles in war. Starting with some of the early ones between tribes but then talk about their involvment through the Revolutionary War WWII and so on. But also Ive thought about doing something with like Vietnam and music how they effected each other. Although this may be difficult to display.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Visitors Experiences

In my opinion one of the biggest challenges museums face is reading the visitors. Everyone is going to want something different and it is almost impossible to make absolutely everyone happy. Trying to figure out what to do to try and make as many guests as possible is a difficult task as well as trying to figure out how to make an unhappy guest happy. People walk into a museum with preconceived notions. They already have an idea of how they are going to like the museum and the exhibit itself. If they come into it thinking they are going to love the exhibit and museum we as the museum staff and professionals hope that this comes true and they do enjoy their experience. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what they expect out of the museum they just are not happy and there is nothing you can do to change that. As long as everyone on the staff does whatever possible to make sure the visitor has a good experience it is then out of your hands if they don’t have an enjoyable experience. But at the same time how much is too much? If you go above and beyond for one unhappy visitor you are then almost expected to go above and beyond for everyone else. It becomes impossible to completely accommodate every single visitor that walks through the museum doors. But trying to do so is something most museums try extremely hard to do. Coming up with new ideas and new and exciting exhibits are some ways museums go about doing this. Visitor comments are another way museums try to adhere to visitor wants and needs. The idea of having visitors and people outside of the personal help with the ideas and changes that take place in a museum is not a necessarily bad idea but I personally find some problems in this. While I think it is great to have personal input and we as experts should not make them inferior, we do know what is going to be best for the museum and objects. We are also able to determine what may or may not work. So if people are giving their input and the museum does not feel that their input is worthy of being used you make that person unhappy because you did not use their idea. Word of mouth is the strongest form of publicity and advertisement. If someone has a great experience they will tell their friends, if someone has a poor experience they will tell anyone they can. So really the question I am trying to answer as I am sure many others are trying to answer as well is how do you give each museum visitor a great experience without having to go way out of the way to do so? Museum staff, professionals and even volunteers basically need to be ready for anything when it comes to dealing with the public, but really that is true when dealing with the public anywhere.