Thursday, September 30, 2010

Project Update 5

I have been working on the SWOT analysis of my exhibition. One strength of the exhibit so far includes the education aspect of appealing to the school groups for field trips. I want the information to follow the student’s curriculum to draw more teacher and their students. I am going to have a story-time area for small children to play and learn as well. A weakness is appealing to the parents that will be bringing the children. I need labels that the children can understand but does not bore the adults. An opportunity would be to expanding the demographics of people that normally attend the museum. A threat could be not having a large enough budget for all of the interactive activities.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Observational Blog 4

           People often go into a museum with certain expectations. Some could be positive but others could be negative as well. Someone who enjoys going to art museums and decided to visit a new one would have expectations from their previous experiences with art museums. They may expect the set up of the museum or the design of the exhibition to be similar, or the learning outcomes to meet their standards. On the other hand, a person who may have had one bad experience at an art museum, whether it is a group of noisy children distracting them or the text used too much technical jargon; they may anticipate their next visit to an art museum to be the same.
            Frequently visitors who have an idea of what their visit is going to be like they often mold their situation into fulfilling their suspicion. This is why it is often difficult to try please every visitor. If they do not come into the museum with an open mind, it is tricky to change their impression. Although it is not impossible by any means to impress a person with preset notions of the museum and change their opinion of museums in general. If a person who does not generally enjoy art museums because of a past experience or they feel they do not understand what they are seeing, they may feel as if they will not learn anything. They may become persuaded to visit an art museum with a friend. This person is coming with the idea that they probably won’t enjoy their experience. Chances are no matter what exhibits are on display; they won’t get much out of the visit. However, this could be a great opportunity for the museum and the person’s friend to open the eyes of the visitor.
            A museum tries to connect to each person that comes through the door but it is not always possible. The museum tries to teach people about the exhibits on display with some degree of authority but use lay-people terms. Interactive displays are helpful in reaching out to people who are more visual learners. Video clips can also affect a visitor’s experience because they can see what is happening in 3D and they can learn something new. Interactive methods such as these may help to connect with people who have high expectations for their visit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Update 4

My theme of my project is the Ohio and Erie Canal. I want to focus on how the canals helped build cities in Ohio and how they influenced people’s lives in the 1800s. I want children to learn the history of the canals and to see through photography how life was like living on a canal. I think a footage video clip of how a canal is pulled would be a good interpretive strategy. A replica of a canal boat that the children could disassemble and reassemble would be a nice interactive as well as a seek-and-find book of the photographs. I think a story-time area would be a good tool as well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Observational Blog 3: Participation at the McKinley Museum

            I visited the William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum over the weekend. The Discover World is devoted to children with multiple interactive science activities. There was a Natural History Island with an Allosaurus that moved and roared along with a plastic rock that had several dioramas of smaller dinosaurs. The Ecology Island had areas of water with different animals that were living there. There were also cages of several animals such as a rabbit, birds, snakes, and a tarantula. The Spacestation Earth area was my favorite of all of the participatory activities in the Discover World. They had a table that turned to show and explain how an eclipse and lunar eclipse form. A touch screen showed how to save energy and money with the use of household appliances and how everyone can help the environment. Another activity was a sound frequency activity to see what noises are made when one pipe was covered and while another was covered and uncovered. One area had the movie Twister playing as it had a tornado of smoke formed. There was a screen that children could pretend they were on the news giving the weather. This area encouraged participation of all kinds as it taught the participant something about what they were doing.
            Throughout the remainder of the museum there were places that the viewer could touch to turn on a recording to learn more. The Street of Shops was like walking back in time into the late 1800’s. There was a store, photographic studio, toyshop, lawyer’s, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, a barbershop, and a firehouse where one could slide down the pole from the second floor. I have to admit though that it was difficult to distinguish what we were allowed to touch and where we were specifically allowed to go. As Nina Simon said the “participants need clear roles and information on how to participate. Several of the places had a rope across the door so it was obvious the visitor was not supposed to enter; however, on the second floor of one building I was unsure if we were allowed to go up.
            The participatory activities were intended for more than just children. Adults could enjoy the science center as much as the children. I participated in almost every activity in the science center and learned a few things new. This is what I think was successful about the activities; the museum didn’t just focus on children as their audience. The Street of Shops could be enjoyed by children; however I think the target audience was for adults. The main objective for participation from the audience was for education and entertainment and I think it was achieved with the activities they created.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Project Update 3

I want to focus my William Loren Bennett exhibit on his canal photographs. This was his main focus of his career and I believe it would be educational to show the documentary photographs during the construction. I have decided that my audience for the exhibit is going to be schoolchildren, focused directly on 5th grade, and their teachers and parents. I want to have an interactive area for the children to participate in. I also think it would be informative to have an educational video playing in one corner of the exhibit.

Project Update 1

I would like to create an exhibition displayed in an art museum featuring a solo exhibition of photographs by William Loren Bennett or Belle Johnson. I am an intern at the Massillon Museum and they have a large collection of photographs for each photographer. I would like to do a little more research before deciding which photographer I will choose. I think the exhibition would be inclusive of their life's work.

Observational Blog 2: Museum Events and Exhbitions

Many people attend a museum for the entertainment that is offered during special events. Others attend for relaxation, to experience culture, and to satisfy their curiosity and learn something new. Museums need to compete with theme parks, theatres, etc. where people go solely for entertainment. Often, museums design events or exhibitions that draw in crowds. This often begs the question of whether museums are sacrificing educating the public in order to bring in enough crowds. Large blockbuster exhibits can be educational as well as a widely publicized event intended to draw in new visitors.

The Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota exhibit at the Canton Museum of Art (February-April, 2009) was a huge blockbuster exhibit that attracted 56,068 visitors. The kimonos themselves were not only extraordinary, but the exhibit included a video of Kubota himself explaining how he made his kimonos and why he decided to create them. Text was also featured under each kimono explaining its meaning, also an exhibition catalog for further reading.

Another big event in the area is Canton’s First Friday event in downtown. It is a night filled with fun and culture. The museums, galleries, restaurants, and shops unite and are open free to the public for the night. It is also a good way for people who cannot afford admission fees to still enjoy the galleries and museums in the area.

The Massillon Museum hosts an annual Island Party which is their biggest event of the year. They have food, music and people can peruse through the galleries. The profit goes toward the museum and the public really enjoys the party.

Museum professionals need to ask themselves if it is better to have an event or exhibition that is not focused on the education aspect as much as the entertainment in order to gain new visitors or if it moving too far from the mission. I think the events that I have mentioned are a good way to attract new faces into the museum. People who may not be museum goers could have a really great time at these events and then decide to visit the museum later to see what’s new. They could potentially become regular visitors all because of their fun visit during an event.

Although some people may not like the aspect of the fun museum events; however, it is not possible to please everyone. Someone can become offended regardless of what the museum professionals try to do. I think if a big event or exhibit is what is necessary to attract the visitors that the museum needs, then I think the museum should take advantage of entertainment as long as they keep in mind the mission of their museum.

Observational Report 1

          Museums need to stay relevant to the times and therefore must make changes to the way in which they run the museum and design its exhibitions. It is now essential to actively engage the visitors and invite them to participate. Museums must be careful when they are thinking of ideas for visitor participation and activity because they need to maintain their goal as a non-profit institution focused on education. Nina Simon’s focus of her book The Participatory Museum is to show that visitors are the heart of the museum experience. It is vital to the success of a museum to know who its audience is and to target them in their exhibitions; however, the museum also needs to try to draw new people into the museum. Simon expresses the importance of a visitor’s experience because it portrays the influence museums have on society.
John Falk describes in his book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience that by understanding who is attending museums, what they are doing when they are inside, and the meaning they derive from an exhibition can reveal what the public thinks is beneficial. Falk uses case studies to show that demographics are not reliable in determining how a person is going to respond to a particular museum or exhibition. Falk mentioned how people decide when they will attend a museum. Many people decide to go to satisfy curiosity while others go for a leisure activity.
Museums need to be careful when they are trying to invite visitors in to maintain their mission. There is a fine line from actively engaging the visitors and making the museum fun to merging into edutainment. Walt Disney merged education and entertainment in the theme parks and movies; however, it can be argued that people are not learning as much as is desired. A museum needs to be cautious to keep from becoming more focused on attracting visitors and showing them a good time rather than educating them as well as making it a fun and enjoyable experience. The visitor experience is everything. Simon and Falk both try to explain the importance of participation of visitors.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Project Update 2

I have decided to research William Loren Bennett. I am meeting with Alex on Monday, September 13th. She is going to show me the collection of his photographs that the Massillon Museum holds. I have started searching the Internet for him; however, I have not been very successful. I am going to check the library to see if there are any books written about him; although, if I cannot find additional sources on Bennett then I am going to research Belle Johnson instead. I know the museum has an extensive collection of her photographs.