In today’s modern museums they have technology heavy displays as the way they draw visitors. Without a heavy technological component most for pay museums will not be able to sustain. They are counting on the innovative displays to keep families coming back day after day. Without them they will lose visitors and have difficulty maintaining the ones they have.
Years ago museums were thought of as stuffy places where old things were kept from our ancient past. Museum curators felt it a privilege to allow visitors to view their carefully guarded and laid out displays. They were not interested in the public’s view of how the display was shown nor how the museums where built and what they housed. But all that has changed in the last fifty to fifty-five years. Museums have vibrant interactive displays that draw all types of visitors and their families. Museums are concerned as to what the public thinks of their displays and out of this concern have grown to see the value in conducting surveys to get the public's opinion as to how displays are done and what items will be displayed. A new term was developed over the years to describe the new modern museums they are called “expo-museums.” This describes the new philosophy of museums today where they are constantly changing and up-grading what is displayed at any given time. They are trying to appeal to the public interest and therefore draw in more visitors. (Hudson, 1975)
The Museum’s role has changed from that of entry as a privilege to entry as a right and finally to instruments of educational communication and research. Since museums implemented the process of surveying its guest, they have made drastic changes in order to accommodate those guests. Our "American museums were the first to use a survey tool to gather statistical data about how its visitors perceived their museum visit. (Dickenson, 1992)" The use of varied types of survey tools have attached many researchers trying to improve and understand why people visit museums and how museums can attract and maintain life-long visitors. Museum visitations began to change because they were no longer looking to attracting an elitist group of visitors but all citizenry of a community, especially the young.
As more and more technology was developed it changed the role of the visitor from “passive spectator to orchestrator of the museum experience.” (Sparacino, 2004) The surveys helped to guide museum curators into new arenas in order to draw visitors young and old. The use of multimedia and interactive displays kept visitors constantly engaged in the museum experience. These types of displays helped the museums to draw visitors that may be pulled away by other attractions for entertainment such as: movie cinemas, theaters, and concerts. In the Fort Worth’s Cowgirl Museum they have a series of virtual displays that talk to the visitor and show them how western women of old became top notch sharp shooters and many more. These digital video/audio displays can also be in 3D form which enhances the experience for the visitors. Other museums such as Perrot's Museum of Science in Dallas and the Children’s Museum in Houston all create interactive displays that act as “instruments for analyzing how people move around the exhibition rooms and transform visitors from mere explorers of artwork into active orchestrators of their experience.” (Sparacino, 2004)
These types of museum experiences can aid in academic knowledge and teacher pedagogy to instill in the learner key components of a subject.. Museums are experiences that parents can do for and with their children that can foster a boarder cognitive knowledge on many subjects. This can help them in their class work as well as their global sophistication. These are experiences that students can have without leaving their town or state. Students can also gain an appreciation for artifacts outside of their everyday scope and understand their own past along with the changes of the coming future. The multimedia, interactive displays encourages them to want to learn and return back to the museums which are constantly changing how the displays present.
Dickenson, V. (1992). Museum Vistor Surveys: an Overview, 1930-1990. Canada: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Hudson, K. (1975). A Social History of Museums: What the Visitors Thought. London and Basingstoke: the
Macmillan Press LTD.
Sparacino, F. (2004, October 10-16). Scenographies of the past and museums of the future: from the wunderkammer to body-driven interactive narrative spaces. Multimedia '04, pp. 72-79.
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Nona M. Batiste is a forty-year + experienced public school teacher who has taught in both New Orleans Public Schools and Dallas Independent School District. She holds a B.S. in Education from Southern University of Baton Rouge, LA and a Master of Science Teaching (MST) from Loyola University of New Orleans, LA. Ms. Batiste has taught Environmental Science and General Science to middle school and high school students. and is currently completing her doctorate in C & I at TAMC. She has been active in both school districts as a master teacher and workshop presenter. She is currently a museum docent at the Monnig Meteorite Gallery located on the Campus of TCU.