Thoughts On The Participatory Museum

I don’t really have one cohesive, overarching thought about this week’s reading. So here’s a collection of my random thoughts while reading!

– Making personal profiles for visitors and taking tools from amusement parks. I wonder if The Wizarding World of Harry Potter changes their visitor’s experience based upon what Hogwarts House they’re sorted into. It’s like J.K. Rowling planned ahead to have a participatory amusement park or something!

– I’m glad Simon mentioned adding a sticker color or label for those who do not want to talk to others about the exhibit. As someone with social anxiety, trying to make small talk with people is extraordinarily difficult for me. This is especially true in situations where I feel like I’m being put on the spot. If a stranger randomly asked me about my opinion on a painting, I’d freeze up and feel uncomfortable. One thing I hate museums doing is designing part of an exhibit where you HAVE to interact with another person in order to proceed through the exhibit.

– You’d be surprised how many of these participatory ideas Starbucks is using to attract repeat business. As a barista I was empowered as a front line employee to give away free drinks & food whenever I felt it was necessary or would help connect with a customer. Now, as a retired barista, I still follow Starbucks’ news, continue to care an abnormal amount about cafe quality, and expect a certain level of customer service when interacting with other businesses. I mean they’ve somehow made me invested in this company even after we officially parted ways. Further, they have both the free membership card featuring custom coupons and a coffee passport book to help engage return visits.

-Simon asks how we might put Illich’s Phonebook of talents into play. While I don’t really have a solution, it would be interesting to post a listing on something like Fiverr offering to pay people $5 to teach you something new. Anyone up for a social experiment?

-One thing I do worry about is that many of Simon’s ideas are require a high level of technical savvy. How many museums are going to have funds and skills to accomplish these ideas? Not to mention upkeep. During my visit to BAM for this class, I noticed that half of the interactive exhibits were broken. “Managing & Sustaining Participation,“ AKA the chapter of broken museum dreams, did little to settle my worries. It just made me even more worried that wonderful institutions full of great information will fall by the wayside due to their inability to keep up.


One thought on “Thoughts On The Participatory Museum”

  1. I think your last concern is spot on. Many participatory elements take money or at least technological skills. And upkeep on technology can be a time and money drain as well. Only one touch screen worked at BAM when I went and the rest of the technology was frozen or unresponsive. How feasible are most participatory ideas (or at least the coolest ones) in smaller museums?

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