Let's start by thinking about a good museum you visited -- just one, and your most memorable one. Think about it for a few minutes. What was good about it? What wasn't? What made it interesting? What did you expect to see when you walked in the front doors? What jumped out at you and grabbed your attention when you were there? What parts of the museum did you walk by quickly and not give a second glance? What did you carry away with you when you were finished?
- Being able to touch and feel things and do things
- having a quest to complete as part of the tour (finding mice hidden in corners)
- Seeing a "HUGE tyranosaurus rex and it went "raaargh" - her words!
- Being able to spend pocket money to bring something away
I may be talking about what excited my 5 year old, but I think these are the things I want when I go to a museum myself. Her new eyes just helped make it more obvious.
And the pocket money.... hmmmm.... maybe we can sell Bob Gagné tee shirts! :-)
The most recent and memorable museum I visited is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, where I visited about 3 weeks ago. I am both a member and close enough to be able to visit the museum 5 or 6 times a year.
What was good about it? Two things:
- I went with my partner and a former (retired) manager of mine to lunch in the dining room that overlooks Central Park. It was wonderfully relaxing, with good food and good company. I felt fulfilled when I left there, having walked through countless galleries to get to and from the elevator bank leading to the room where we enjoyed brunch.
- Before I met with my colleague, we walked through some rooms in the museum that I had apparently overlooked in my previous visits. It is such a large museum, that even while I go there regularly, I still see something new or different or changing upon every revisit. Even more, I tend to notice even the same things in a new light each time; I am always surprised by what I find . . .
I think all of the other questions you asked us to consider, Richard, are fundamentally summed up in my last statement, "I am always surprised by what I find . . . ." Like Heraclitus who claimed to never step into the same river twice, I think I never see the same thing twice in the Metropolitan Museum. Some of the works of art may be the same, but I view them in a different frame of mind, perspective, and sensibility each time I go. I have enough comfort to see some "old friends" repeatedly, yet they seem to offer me more each time (or rather I come at them from a new place repeatedly).
I am particularly sensitive to the architecture and atmosphere - spaces/ light and how the different objects are brought to attention or highlighted. One of the most vibrant museums I have visited is Te Papa, in Wellington, NZ. It is an eclectic mix, combining the visual appeal of unexpected colours and angles with interactivity and multimedia. Past history blended with high technology.
I also love the non-linear multimedia layers on a timeline, patterns or associations which bring together various perspective around the same theme or paintings together with quotes from writers, philosophers, a recorded narrative or a short film. A recent exhibition called the Nature of Things at the Modern Art Museum or the setup of the Museum of Portuguese Language in Sao Paulo are such examples.
The guiding narrative should include interesting questions, which make you better observe details, and/or episodes that illustrate and relate the artifacts or people in their social and personal context.
Thanks for the examples of non-linear multimedia layers on timelines. I can see how this could be used in this project to illustrate how significant events and ideas in educational technology overlap with other social, cultural and technological movements.
Come to think of it, the World Wide Web is a "museum" of information and now of interconnection. I get that sense of discovery almost every day now.
One of my favourite museums is the “Royal Tyrrell Museum” in Drumheller.http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/.
This museum is exciting in that it is only a starting point for the study of the hills beyond the museum. . The museum website which provides online virtual tours, slide shows and audio feeds giving you a preview of what to expect at the museum. There are several features within the building that make it a rewarding experience. You can choose between guided and self guided tours. The path inside the museum leads you through time and the various eras of the dinosaurs. The interactive nature of the exhibits allows you to explore areas of interest in more depth. The lighting, sound effects and commentaries all lend to the inviting atmosphere.
I would like to compare my best museum or tour experiences to shopping at IKEA. (http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/). IKEA has a lot to offer but has laid out their store in a very organized path which the shopper must follow. You can travel along the path at your own speed stopping to explore as you choose. You decide if you would like to meander through all the displays or pass quickly by heading directly to what you are looking for that day. This experience leaves me with the feeling that I haven’t missed something important.