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.