A way in
If you have ever tried to take your friends/partner to a museum, you surely understand that sometimes this task can be challenging. Museums don't have the best reputation when it comes to being fun places to hang around. And lets face it, if people don't want to come, then there is no point of developing magnificent educational programs. When I was at the British Museum, a colleague of mine told me that the first step in education programming is making people feel comfortable in museums and enjoy the experience. So in my year of research, I've been to many museum events and I am going to share some of the ones I enjoyed the most.
My third experience was during a date in Geneva. By the way museums are great places to go on a date. I convinced the guy I was with to go to Centre d'Art Contemporain for a special evening called Nuit de Bains where contemporary art galleries and museums are free and open until late at night. The Centre d'Art Contemporain got a sponsorship from a brewery and gave away beers. So you could walk around seeing the exhibition of Sonia Kacem (that was amazing) having a drink. My date was impressed that museums would do that and enjoyed the night and the exhibition. One simple thing helped changed his perception towards museums (maybe I can change museum´s perception one date at a time 😂 ).
There are so many different activities nowadays in museums. These three examples show the variety of events that are offered, from drinking or dancing to meditation. I think that the relation between them is that museums are becoming more open and relaxed spaces. Now visitors are expected to do what before was considered unthinkable to do in museums: HAVE FUN!
For my birthday last year I went to New Orleans with my sister for the first time. One of the museums I visited was the NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art). My sister and I went to a late Friday evening. The museum had different events. One of them was a cooking demonstration inspired by the museum's exhibition "The Essence of Things", which talked about the design behind everyday objects. A well-known chef created two simple sorbets showing the simplicity of the cuisine and there was a tasting in the end.
My second experience was in a place where I've been twice now: the New Museum in New York. It is a Guided Meditation for Black Lives Matter in relation to Simon Leigh: The Waiting Room exhibition. This meditation is not only closely related to the theme of the exhibition which is care and health, but also to the current events that have being going on in the United States. I have to admit that I am not a super fan of meditation, but I was delighted with this experience and that is why I ended up going again. Again, like at my NOMA experience, there was a close relation between the activity and the the museum theme/ exhibition.
(sorry I have no pictures of this one, I was too concentrated ✌)
The second event was a jazz band that was playing during the evening. I am not going to make any comments about this, because you can see it in the video how much I liked it! I have to say both events enhanced my general experience at the museum. The reason for this is that I was in New Orleans, food and jazz are part of the culture, so involving that complemented my visit. Also, I think we spent more time than we would have otherwise because of them.
Have you had any fun experiences in museums? But most importantly: how can we go from just for the fun of it to having our visits be meaningful experiences related to what we are about ?