A Reading From: Hyperallergic

A common theme of many museum professional gatherings is the telling of war stories, many of which involve unique guest interactions. More often than not, the stories involve some sort of bizarre behavior or outrageous act that may seem innocuous to an outsider but sends chills down our collective spine. Such acts have been detailed in a variety of media (including this familiar and frustrating stunt) but there is one that is collecting a particular amount of attention this week.

A couple visiting the Tate in London was photographed standing by while their child climbed on a multi-million dollar installation. (Read the story on Hyperallergic.com here) As museum professionals, we have all seen this type of behavior. Suggestions on how to deal with these occurrences has ranged from the benign (ask security to intervene) to the outlandish (like this) or excessive (slash their tires). Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this? Is there a way this type of behavior can be curbed during the guests’ initial interactions at the admissions desk?

Furthermore, there is the issue of the mother’s comment to the photographer that she, to paraphrase, “obviously doesn’t know children.” How can we, as museum professionals, help parents prepare their children for a museum experience? What’s the role of children’s museums and art galleries in bridging the transition from hands-on fun to hands-off observing?

As always, we would love to hear your ideas on this topic. Feel free to comment below or drop us a line at phillyemp[at]gmail[dot]com.

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3 responses to “A Reading From: Hyperallergic

  1. I am a firm believer in letting visitors take photos. It is the age of social media and not allowing photography is working against museums. Guests sharing photos is free advertising.

    Even if most or all of your collection cannot be photographed for archival or legal reasons, museums should create a few key photographic points that guests can and are encouraged to photograph. This can be as simple as making a display out of modern reproductions and encouraging guests to take photos of their family there. (Make sure your museum name or logo is displayed clearly in these points.)

  2. I completely agree. Photography is so accessible these days and it can be used as a fantastic tool. First, it gives the guest a participatory experience as well as something tangible. Second, the institution, as you suggested, can take control of how and when photos are taken and what said photos are used for.

    We’ve discussed the role of photos in the museum before:
    http://phillyemp.com/tag/photography/

    There are a lot of great ways to reimagine the role of the guest as a participant, thanks for sharing your ideas!

  3. Pingback: Five Posts Worth Another Look | Philadelphia Emerging Museum Professionals·

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