Museum visitors have rights.
Museums are storage lockers without visitors. And, visitors have certain rights.
The right to wander at will,
The right to feel smart,
And the right to demand NOT to be made to feel stupid.
They have the right to spend hours
or look at ONE thing and leave.
They have the right to be near the art, to touch the interactive, to look really close at the butterfly wing—when those collection objects are under glass.
When they are not under glass, they have the right to look pretty close at collection objects. Remember, museums are inviting them in. Trust them!
They have the right to go “backward” in exhibitions (as long as they don’t impinge on the rights of other visitors).
They have the right to miss the tour.
They have the right to take the tour and walk away, just because.
They have the right to share their feelings about the tour.
They have the right to disagree, to not care, or to agree.
They have the right to hate what we have on the walls.
They have the right to just listen, to ask, to share, to question.
Again, they have the right to question.
They have the right to ask and question when their story isn’t included.
They have the right to notice when museums are doing it wrong.
They have the right to see the museum space as a place to relax,
to walk when it’s cold outside,
to meet a friend and to go for a drink,
to go for a drink,
to meet a date,
to avoid a date,
to get a bite to eat,
to hear a concert,
to find a quiet place to relax,
to read a book,
to ignore all the museum’s darn labels,
to listen to EVERY stop on the audiotour,
to learn about stuff they forgot from school,
to bring their kids,
to run from kids.
They have the right to not be followed, to not be started at, to not be questioned by guards.
They have the right to feel trusted.
For more on trust in museums, see my blog post, Trust the Revolution, which includes my MuseumNext talk by the same name or watch the video below: