Sunday, November 28, 2010

Observational Blog 12: Co-Creating Projects

Nina Simon discusses co-creating projects with visitors and its benefits. Co-creative projects need to begin with the community. She gives three main reasons for communities to use co-creative projects, “To give voice and be responsive to the needs and interests of local community members. To provide a place for community engagement and dialogue. To help participants develop skills that will support their individual and community goals,” (263). Simon claims, “co-creative projects progress very similarly to collaborative projects, but they confer more power to participants,” (264). In the exhibition If Tired Hands Could Talk: Stories of Asian Pacific American Garment Workers featured at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle, WA, used oral histories to compile the content. Exhibitions that focus on oral history can be very powerful and will also give the public the feeling of being a part of the museum. It can be easier to relate to since the content would be told in a more relaxed tone.
            Simon discussed the project team is composed of three groups, “A Core Advisory Committee of 12-15 community members with specific and diverse connections to the topic at hand, who lead the project development. Staff, who facilitate the process as technical advisors, project administrators, and community managers. More informally engaged community members, who participate as contributors and collaborators to the projects,” (266). The CAC will assist with creating personal views of information for the exhibition. The staff of the institution will assist with the planning and execution of the project and ensure that the community members feel they are participating in something worthwhile.
            Co-creative projects can generate a new kind of exhibition that involves the community in a different form than collaborative projects. It can produce a more personal experience and relate to the public in different ways. They can feel as if they were a part of something special as they see their words on the walls of the museum; although the same thing can be said of collaborative projects and other participatory activities.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Observational Blog 11: Value of a Museum

John Falk discusses the value of museums and how they affect the community’s lives through its operation. A museum must strive to make a difference to its visitors otherwise the mission would not be fulfilled and its existence would be irrelevant. Museums must support the good of the public. Falk claims, “Achieving this goal requires understanding not just the needs and wants of the public, but how the public can best be served by the resources and capabilities of the museum,” (239). In order to determine if a museum is meeting its goals, measuring the success would be the next step. Falk asserts, “Success is not limited to a single set of outcomes, but requires excellence in basic areas: (1) support of the public good which includes accomplishing one’s cultural/aesthetic mission, but also involves being a good community citizen; (2) organizational investment which includes building and nurturing staff; supporting a climate and culture for creativity, innovation, collaboration, and research and development; and (3) financial stability which includes building organizational value and, when possible, generating annual financial surpluses that can be used to further support institutional learning and hence, the public good,” (239-240). This means that a museum must maintain that it is influential to its visitors by meeting their particular needs through a knowledgeable staff and multiple resources.
Museums need to gauge the impact of their institution and make changes when necessary. The public changes over time as well as their needs, motivations, and expectations. What worked twenty years ago may not appeal to the audience of today. The museum staff needs to realize this and change with the times or they will be left in the dust. Falk claims that the public recognizes museums are “good for five basic things: 1) the need to satisfy personal curiosity and interest; 2) the wish to engage in a meaningful social experience with someone you care about, in particular children; 3) the aspiration to experience that which is best and most important within a culture; 4) the desire to further specific intellectual needs; and 5) the yearning to immerse one’s self in a spiritually refreshing environment,” (245). Each person that steps foot in museum is coming with their own ideas and assumptions about what they will find and what they are looking for. It is a museum’s job to attempt to appeal to every visitor. If the museum can satisfy these provisions then they stand a good chance of having a future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Project Update

I have finished my dossier and my storyboard. I also finished my prototype and I'm now working on my presentation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Observational Blog 10: Knowing Your Visitors

John Falk discusses in Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience accommodating the needs of visitors. He discusses several types of visitors that will expect different things from an exhibition and how a museum can attempt to meet those needs. Falk claims there are five types of visitors: explorers, facilitators, experience seekers, professional/hobbyists, and rechargers. Each one of these visitors comes to the museum with specific expectations and an exhibition will not always meet the needs of every visitor.
An explorer “[seeks] to satisfy their personal interests and curiosities,” while visiting a museum (217). He explains that this group is a “large percentage of a museum’s visiting population,” (217). They wish to learn more about the subjects that interest them and they expect the museum to fulfill their curiosity. This group, I believe would hold the museum to high standards but would understand and still return if their expectations are not always met.
A facilitator is a visitor that “arrive[s] at the museum with a strong desire to support what’s best for their loved one or companion,” (221). Facilitators are often parents taking their children around the museum. They can be the driving force in bringing people into the museum which is why it is crucial to appeal to these visitors.
Experience seekers, I feel, are easy to please. They are just looking for a good time and want to “make memories” so as long as they have a good time, they are satisfied. For professional/hobbyists, going to an exhibition is like “a job to get done,” (228) according to Falk. They have prior knowledge of the information and Falk claims many will not read the labels. They use the sources for their own needs.
Rechargers want “a peaceful and aesthetically pleasing corner of the world in which to relax,” (230). This group of visitors does not demand a great deal from the institution; they want a place they can relax and be in a comfortable, calming place. In order to try to connect with each of these groups of visitors, different design methods need to be created because every visitor responds in various ways. Knowing they types of visitors that frequent the museum a person runs will greatly increase repeat visits by appealing to how they learn and use the exhibition.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Project Update 10

I have almost finished my storyboard. I am finishing up my floor plan. I am going to finish my dossier on Saturday so I can send it to you for review. My only worry is trying to figure out the budget. I have a list of things that I need to include; however, I think it may be difficult to determine how much things will cost. We don’t have a limit on our budget do we? We’re just creating an approximation of what we think the installation costs will be? I think I am coming along pretty well. For our presentation, do we need to create a PowerPoint or are we going to go off of our dossier to present?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Observational Blog 10: Attracting Visitors

Museums in the twenty-first century are essentially based on the visitor experience. John Falk suggests in his book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience that museums have become “marketing-driven” (185). He claims, “A majority of museum-goers report that the primary thing that influenced them to visit was a word-of-mouth recommendation from friends and/or family,” (187). In order for someone to recommend a museum to another, their experience must have been positive. People are influenced greatly by the reviews of their friends and family. Falk goes on to say, “For all museums, advertising and publicity programs account for less than 20% of visitors,” (187). I have to agree with Falk when he says, “This, of course, becomes somewhat circular—in order for there to be a successful word-of-mouth promotion, people have to go to the museum in the first place, for people to go to the museum in the first place, they need to be encouraged by someone else who had a successful museum experience,” (187-88). So how do people decide to go to museums initially if the collections and content of the museum and the marketing of those objects only consist of a small percentage of people’s reasons for visiting? One has to wonder if this chain begins simply with the people who attend museums regularly are the ones who spread the positive word-of-mouth promotions.
Nina Simon discusses in The Participatory Museum visitors as contributors. Simon states, “contributory activities can be offered to visitors of all types without much setup or participant coaching…Contributory projects are also in many case the only type of participatory experience in which visitors can seamlessly move from functioning as participants to audience and back again,” (204). Simon mentions the Denver Community Museum’s exhibition Bottled Up! People were invited to create a bottle filled with memories of people, places, and other significant things in their lives. Many people contributed to this exhibition and encouraged other visitors to open the bottles and view their secrets. Relating to what Falk said, how did the visitors who contributed hear about the exhibition in the first place? Would they have heard about it from a friend that visited the museum and saw they were asking for contributions for a new exhibit or through advertising? The exhibition was very successful and many people came and participated in it. One has to wonder if the success of the exhibition was due to word-of-mouth encouragement or through the advertisements the museum used.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Project Update 9

I purchased detail samples of fabrics, stickers, paper signage, floor samples, and items to create a prototype of a canal boat. I decided to make the canal boat prototype out of model clay. The real boat that will be for the kids to play with will either be plastic or polished wood. It seemed easier to make a prototype out of clay though. I am going to work on my dossier to send to you by class on Monday. I need help with the storyboard. I’m not sure how to arrange the items on it. I am going on the floor plan website to create a sample floor plan for Monday.