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October 25, 2011

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Mary Case

I think the data may reveal a difference by audience type and scale. Some museums attract visitors because they are known to have something cool for kids on Sat mornings, or for young adults on Thurs after 6. In these cases, the new great exhibit can be a wonderful surprise or missed altogether without regard to the Visitor's intentions. In other places, it is only the urgency of the new, created by the exhibit marketing, that causes the visitor to move off the couch. In every case, some sense of urgency needs to be created. ...only on Thursday, ...I want to be among the first to see this... Thank u for taking on this question. Looking forward to data-based answers.

Lindsey Baker, LHS

I'm very interested in hearing what you found. Here at the Laurel Historical Society we produce annual exhibits as well as smaller, mini-exhibits throughout the year. It is a big drain on time and resources--at 1 and 1/2 staff, it's done with a great volunteer committee, but it is a very large undertaking. However, we've always thought it was worth the time and effort of the organization to keep people coming through our doors each year. So, like I said, I'm very interested in hearing what you found!

Michelle Moon

I've come to think they're essential, even for living history sites and other non-box museums. They give you something to communicate and occasion another "touch" to visitors. They show that the institution is alert and constantly rethinking. They show that you're interested in topics with current appeal, and that there's active research and scholarship going on. Changing exhibitions don't have to be huge - having one room or gallery that changes can offer a lot, and in the case of historic sites, creating threads that change the room installations can be really exciting. Those can simply be accurate seasonal changes, played up in program and labelling, or be intriguing windows into the past, like running a "weddings" or "DIY/homemade" theme through a multi-building site, with new content scatted through the existing interpretation like Easter eggs. I've lately been thinking that change is how a museum breathes - we don't want to freeze in amber, because our visitors' lives don't, and judicious change gives us a way to activate our collection and stay in touch with constitutents.

Can't wait to see the results. It's an important and much-discussed question, especially in history sites, where there's sometimes skepticism about the power of change, and an expectation of enduring appeal that statistics just aren't bearing out.

moe

This seems like a very interesting opinion survey with interesting results as well. I think that some changes are needed, but that some people get carried away because they want to change "their" museum to fit their own needs. I think that people should think more about the community as a whole and focus less on themselves when thinking about changing things around.

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