Thursday, October 28, 2010

Project Update 8

I have been working on my visitor outline. I am trying to imagine where I am going to put all of the material into the exhibition that I want. I think having a small replica of part of a canal boat in the corner of an exhibition including items that would have been on the boat would be a nice interactive tool for visitors to really visualize what they are seeing in the photographs. However, I am thinking that this probably would not work because I am proposing this exhibition to be at the Massillon Museum main gallery and not only would it be very costly, I don’t know how it would be built in there or how it would get there. So I’m kind of stuck on participatory activities, especially related to children, as well as a layout for my exhibition.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Observational Blog 7: Survey Results

This week’s homework was creating a survey and dispersing it out to our friends and family. I have realized that even though I thought the questions I asked were simple and self-explanatory, the responses I have received have shown me that I could have been a little clearer. I did not realize it when I wrote the questions and made the multiple choice answers that my questions were unclear. From the responses I received I realized should have reworded a few questions and added another sentence for clarification. A true or false question I used was “The canals are still used today.” Several people responded, “True, but not for their original purpose.” I realized I should have made that clear in the statement. I also found out that the source I used online to base my questions off of turned out to have wrong information. I was lucky though because the two questions still had the correct answer in the other choices. I also made a few errors on the survey I sent to my first group. Due to an error on the computer, it sent the survey before I could fix it. This could have caused confusion on one of the questions on my survey.
I sent my survey out to 44 people and I have received fourteen responses. Eight were female and six were male. I have to wonder why only fourteen people responded to my survey. Nina Simon claims institutions need to ask questions about its visitors that participate in the activities, “If participation is voluntary, what is the profile of the visitors who choose to participate actively? What is the profile of the visitors who choose not to participate,” (309). The majority of people that I sent my survey to are between the ages of 19-25.
The profiles of the majority of my group were college students. Many have jobs, participate in clubs, and have homework like everyone else. There are many factors as to why many people did not respond to my survey. They may have intended to but decided to do it later. Many people do not like surveys and won’t take them even if they are for a friend or acquaintance. People may not have had time or genuinely did not want to take the survey. I realized after reading several responses to the survey how clear one has to be in order to obtain the results desired. I am confident in the future I will be able to create a clearer survey.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Project Update 7

I have been working on my Interpretive Plan and working on my dossier. I have also been working on my survey. I have been looking for books on the canals so I can make a similar assessment for my exhibition or just use the information for my text panels. I plan to engage the visitors by the hands-on activities I have mentioned previously. There will be many pictures and not a great deal of text because my target audience is children. This will make the exhibit more interesting to the children.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Observational Blog 6: Social Objects

Nina Simon discusses social objects and how they create dialogue between visitors in a museum and in other aspects of life. She claims, “Social objects are the engines of socially networked experiences, the content around which conversation happens. Social objects allow people to focus their attention on a third thing rather than each other, making interpersonal engagement more comfortable.” (127-128). First, she discusses how people take their pets with them if they want to start a conversation with someone new because people can talk to each other through the animal. This is common when someone is out walking their dog. Strangers will walk up and talk to the owner while focusing on the dog. It is very similar when a parent has a new baby. Animals and babies are considered social objects according to Simon because they create conversations between people who would not normally speak to one another without the object to focus upon.
Simon claims that social objects have four common qualities, “Personal, Active, Provocative, and Relational,” (129). Personal objects can relate to someone, bringing back a memory or an emotion that they may feel encouraged to share. Active objects are “objects that directly and physically insert themselves into the spaces between strangers [that] can serve as shared reference points for discussion,” (130). Active objects are often used in social settings that can open discussions between people when they share an experience. Provocative objects are often used in museums to create a dialogue. It can be something that is shocking and they decide to discuss. Relational objects necessitate more than one person to use them, causing interaction between people.
In 2009, the Massillon Museum used the approach of provocative objects in its exhibition Stark Naked Salon. The exhibit featured the work of eleven budding artists in Stark County. The exhibit was displayed salon-style and the different techniques displayed definitely opened the exhibit up for conversation. The exhibit shocked many people beginning with the title. This exhibit was the talk of the town for a while due to the fact that the different artistic styles displayed were often unconventional and contemporary. Social objects can bring people together in various settings and museums take advantage of this fact to attempt to enhance the visitor experience.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Project Update 6

I have been working on the dossier for my project. I have already established who the audience is, the exhibit theme and concept. I have a list of goals and objectives. I have been working on the visitor experience outline. I have a good idea what I want in the exhibition. I have been considering creating a small scale replica that children and adults can actually get inside to look around and see what it would have been like to be on a boat. I think this would be a great learning experience, but I know it would be almost impossible to create a full scale canal boat to fit into an exhibition space.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Observational Blog 5

The museum can determine the visitor’s experience by how they choose to design the exhibition. They can choose to confront the visitor and make them uncomfortable such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Field to Factory exhibition in 1987 as Falk mentions. Or they could choose to make the visitor comfortable by designing the exhibit in a familiar format and setting. By making this decision, the visitor experience has already been influenced. Making people uncomfortable in the museum setting can be a risky move. The Field to Factory exhibit forced people to choose which term of racial identity described them. Most people do not enjoy feeling uncomfortable when in a museum setting especially if they are viewing something they do not understand. They may decide to leave early rather than view the exhibit; however, this tactic could deepen the experience of the visitor by changing the way they always view museums. They could challenge themselves to participate in unfamiliar experiences.
            The deeper the experience for the visitor the more likely they are to remember their visit in years to come and to return. It is important to make visitors feel as if they are valued customers. The exhibition should be audience-centered. If the exhibition focuses on children, the signage and labels should correspond to their target audience. The same goes for a target audience of academic adults, the labels should reflect the higher education level; however, the museum should still not use a great deal of technical jargon for the lay-people who decide to visit, to ensure they still take away something from their exhibition.
            Attempting to relate to the visitors as individuals rather than a group may create a more meaningful experience for them. People in America are very individualistic and self-serving. Addressing the people this way could emphasize this aspect of our culture; however, it could give the visitor the opportunity to associate themselves with the museum on their own personal interests. The next step could be to give tools to connect people to one another. This could be accomplished through interactive activities or scheduled discussion groups.
            These decisions on design can influence the museum visitor’s experience either positively or negatively. It is impossible to tell how each person’s experience will go. A museum professional can only guide the visitor to the best experience; it is up to the person on what they are going to make of it.