There is a symphonic aspect to exhibition and museum gallery planning. Many ideas come together to create something coherent and ideally pleasing to the audience.  Just as some music is appealing to only a few, and others hit the charts, some exhibitions and museum spaces work for more rarified audiences. That said,  museums can do better about understanding what types of ideas are broader audience-specific and what are for more rarified circles.  The challenge can be that museums focus too much on those items that are most interesting to the fewest people.

The graphic highlights the types of information on the scale of ease and impact. Ideally, museums should strive for balance. An exhibition with only top-level information (“the thing” in the graphic) might hit the broadest audience but will leave die-hard patrons cold. Similarly, an interpretation that only drills down will be irrelevant to the majority of visitors.  The grade-grey triangle above shows the relative amount of interpretation by category. The majority of their interpretation should be in the categories, “the thing” “the cool thing” and “the cool thing is like this thing I know.”  In these three categories, the museum is helping visitors find answers to the biggest questions and helping visitors make relevant connections.  In this way, they are centering the majority of visitors through interpretation.

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