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.  

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