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.

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