This post is part of a new series on Arrrrducation. We’ve invited guest posters from outside of the museum field to tell us what they’re looking for in a museum visit or what prompts them to decide to visit a museum.
This post comes from Andrea Hein White of Chicago.
My desire for either revisiting a favorite or selecting a new museum begins with a thirst for knowledge. The thirst usually occurs for a combination of reasons: I’ve recently seen or been reminded of an artist or work that I know is housed in a museum I can easily access, I’m traveling to a new town and want to have part of my experience include a cultural connection to a local museum, or I realize that I have an inner pull to reconnect to my favorite pieces at a long-visited museum. Once felt, the need to revisit my favorite museums and pieces is strong – I find myself compelled to plan a trip as soon as possible.
Once at a museum, the first thing I do is get a building map. Even if I’ve already visited several times, I love the feel of the map in my hands: it is a metaphysical call to culture; a tangible reminder of the possibilities open to explore. I am also an extremely visual learner, so it’s comforting to have a visual guide of the museum’s layout.
Once I’ve decided which areas to visit, I rely on good lighting, the exhibits’ spatial layouts, the quality of the museum’s identification cards, and the presence of guest benches to complete my experience. I find that the proper lighting almost always enhances my experience within an exhibit or gallery and a well-researched and worded identification card augments my appreciation, by providing another mode of informational access. If I’m revisiting a work that I love, I very much appreciate the addition of a guest bench, so I can sit and write about my connection with the work.
Finally, having enough space within an exhibit to comfortably move between pieces is essential for me to not feel too rushed while enjoying a museum visit.
Look around your museum. Do you think Andrea would feel comfortable? Do you have the amenities to serve her and visitors like her?