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.