Identity and developing museums for Visitor involvement

I have two books to take with me on a 10 day ski-trip with my family.
‘Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience’ by John Falk
‘The Engaging Museum, Developing Museums for Visitor Involvement’ by Graham Black

Both authors talk about the Museum Visitor as one of the most important things to consider in a museum.
What does the public want, and how can the museum facilitate their needs?

There seems to be a trend: giving the public -whether it be museum visitors or concert goers- the opportunity to be more than just a passive visitor, to really participate in the museums community.
This can be done in real life, by giving the public to curate an exhibition. The Van Abbemuseum makes it possible for visitors to choose an artwork they would like to see on display. All they have to do is fill out a form and write down why they choose a specific artwork. This creates interesting combinations of objects.

An other way to let the visitor take part is in a virtual way. Museums are using Twitter, Facebook and their own website to communicate with their visitors. They find out what people want and expect form the museum by talking to the public. Besides this, the museum gains a lot of extra information and data when visitors post photo’s made in the museum or blog about their experience.

But, why do museums want their public to participate? Is it because they feel their goal is to be open to everyone, to share ideas and listen to the public? Or is it because they ran out of ideas theirselves on how to attract new visitors? What better way then to ask the target group what triggers their interest?

Maybe Falk or Black knows the answer, I will let you know in 10 days.


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