Before taking this class, I always thought exhibitions were based around objects and never thought of the larger story they were used to tell. Once Tim mentioned that exhibitions always started out as stories and that objects were just one means of telling it, I began to view exhibitions in a different light. I became more critical of the importance and inclusion of certain objects. Why was this vase included, and not a different one?… What role did it play in the narrative?… What was it trying to tell me?… All these questions constantly circle in my mind and honestly, have made my exhibition viewing process much more enjoyable. On that note, I stumbled on a review of the new permanent exhibition at the Museum of the American Indian in NYC called “Infinity of Nations“. The review stresses the same idea of objects as characters in an exhibition. I recommend reading it, it’s very interesting to see how much larger and lively issues are addressed through the use of inanimate things.
After Monday’s lecture on technology within the museum, I saw this on a walk and it made me stop and think about the simplicity I seek within museum walls. Everyday I walk (as I know everyone else in the class does too) past the light store- Filaments. The store, located near Parson’s on 13th Street, is filled to capacity with light bulbs, stands, and shades. I know this is a stretch, but every time I walk past the store, I always think of the Hall of Biodiversity located in the American Museum of Natural History. The Hall of Biodiversity is laid out in a similar manner, it is crowded, colorful, and completely attention-grabbing. There is a very small presence of technology, making the visitor rely almost solely on the presentation of the plants and animals.
If I said I adored this area of the museum, it would be an understatement. Every visit I am pleasantly overwhelmed by the information and models presented, and I always learn something new. I really appreciate the simplicity of this Hall, and I find it refreshing that I find myself thinking of the museum when I see things as simple as a store front.
This is something museums must strive for- a seamless transition between spaces. Museum learning cannot stop once a visitor leaves the confines of the institution. I applaud the Hall for it’s simplicity. If it was only technological displays, instead of the appropriate combination that it does have, I doubt it would make as strong as impact on its viewers.
Posted in aesthetics, architecture, audience, aura, collections, design, exhibition, knowledge, media, natural history, personal, science, specimens, storytelling, technology
I recently found this article about the Guggenheim’s attempts to reach a wider, more diverse audience and I felt it really speaks to the discussions we have been having about museum transparency and community interaction.
YouTube- one of the most visited sites on the Web has joined forces with the Museum to allow participants a chance to be included in an exhibition… “It’s all motivated by the same thing, to make what is on the walls here more compelling,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
The initiative is such a great way to not only reach out to communities, but act as a dialogue-starter to spark change. It’s very refreshing to see an institution as highly regarded and world-renowned as the Guggenheim taking a stance on urban living complications and joining forces with its “audience” to solve the problem.
In regards to the wide-reaching possibilities this represents, imagine if other museums began taking part in Web-based dialogue… The Brooklyn Museum and others have lead the way in participatory conversation, and their efforts have allowed their collections to be accessed and (most importantly) enjoyed by a much larger audience. If other museums took the leap and began interacting with their visitors, the exchange of information between visitor and institution would be so rich and culturally important. Museums would loose the often pompous and stuffy connotations and become true transparent institutions.
It seems that as this class looks into the museum of the future, we get more and more skeptical of the human aspect- will the human have a place in the museum, and if so, where will it be? As Stephen and I were researching the future of the science museum he came across this interesting video that emphasizes the importance of human/technology relationships. In the future, museums, especially STEM museums- those that specialize in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics will rely on the human presence to explain important concepts to the viewers. These museums will not only be areas of learning, but real forums to solve global problems.
The video is very inspiring, I think it gives a good idea of how the human, instead of disappearing behind the technology’s presence, will become an even more valuable asset to the museum structure.
The Newseum, a museum designed with the guidance of RAA, is currently holding an exhibition entirely dedicated to the relationship of music and media. “Woodstock at 40” traces the rise of photojournalism through a music festival in upstate New York. This exhibition, unlike the rest of the Newseum is almost entirely void of technological interactions. The exhibits rely solely on interviews from now famous journalist who attended the festival, a collaboration of photographs documenting the weekend, and music memorabilia such as tickets and album covers. “Woodstock at 40” is set up more like a living documentary than its high-tech counterparts which make up the rest of Newseum. The video interviews with Woodstock attendees seem to be the most technologically advanced aspect of the exhibition. Because of the overall simplicity of the gallery design, I assume that the budget was not particularly large for this display.
It would be interesting to see how Woodstock, one of the most controversial events of its time, could be shown through technological interactions such as a computer generated map of the festival grounds, a way to place the museum visitor at the site, and other means to experience interesting aspects of the Festival such as musicians, instruments, and drug use.