Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Museum Learning Talk at Powerhouse Museum

Gave a talk at the Powerhouse Museum (PHM) today as part of their talks after noon seminar series. Was great to get back to the doctorate and remember why I got interested in this topic in the first place. My slides have been uploaded to Slideshare and chapters of the thesis are online here.

I co-presented with Helen Whitty from the PHM who gave a talk a titled Public programs: Snake oil merchants or Museum professional? Helen is always a great speaker and some points I took from her talk were:

  • Experience of the museum not just the exhibitions
  • 'Public programs are the links between the museum and its audience' (MacLulich, 1994)
  • Look at not what the public program is but what it does – for example is it a destination event; a signature program; a fixed/ongoing program linked to permanent exhibition; or special programs linked to temporary exhibitions?
  • Penfold, an early PHM Director, in 1939 was scathing about museums as 'dead places' and suggested museums should move to retail practices – he suggested that visitors should leave a museum having 'bought' something
  • What do the public actually want from a museum? Helen spoke about findings from a PHM study which found that half of those surveyed wanted 'learning' and half wanted 'pleasure' in their leisure time
  • Perceived dichotomy between education and entertainment is now an old framework, it's now about how we approach our learners and about putting our visitors at the centre (hear-hear Helen!! That's what I found in my research too)

All in all a good session and thanks for organising it Rita and Jana.

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