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.

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