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Museum Visit Photo Essay

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FC: Museum Visit Photo Essay Field Museum Chicago, IL. Saturday, Feb. 18th 2012

2: Visitor Services These are two of the three ticket counters at the front of the museum. These are the most obvious places for a visitor to go to get any of their questions answered. These counters sold visitors their tickets and handed out maps and other information pamphlets. Once visitors got their tickets and passed by security they were also able to go to the coat check counter. Next to the coat check was a large desk staffed by volunteers that seemed to be helping out large visiting groups and many individuals that were indicated to be museum members.

4: Security Security personnel are some of the more frequently seen museum staff by the public. After getting tickets, the visitors filed past this guard showing them the museum stamp on their hands. Besides this gentleman, there were no other security guards. There most certainly were other security measures in place but I was surprised that there were no other guards.

6: Lighting It is hard to tell in this picture but the reason why I took it was because there was no light in the exhibit case. Many of the surrounding exhibits were permanently lit, others were set to motion sensors. But this one, that housed mannequins performing a traditional Pacific Northwest ritual, was not lit at all. I found this to be interesting because they were just mannequins wearing reproduction clothing. How much damage could the light really do, and wouldn't any damage be repairable? I would like to know why there was no light in this case of unoriginal displays whereas countless others of real artifacts were subject to almost constant lighting.

8: Exhibit Design This photograph is a good example of the partnership between exhibit designers and educators. This panel was part of the "Egyptian Marketplace" exhibit that was surrounded by artifacts from daily life in ancient Egypt. Those exhibits contained the usual artifacts in glass cases with placards of explanation. But this smaller exhibit was geared towards children with its bright colors and conveyance of information through character dialogue as opposed to the recitation of facts. The designers are obviously very versatile to be able to meld both traditionally designed exhibits with hand selected objects around child-friendly ones that don't use any objects at all.

10: Registrar Even though this is an exhibit, it shows the public what a registrar is and what they do. It is not a position that the public hears about very often so I was excited when I stumbled upon this. Behind it were large windows looking into some of the museum's back rooms, giving the public yet another glimpse into the inner workings of the museum. This display was a set of drawers that the visitor could pull out and showed what a registrar is responsible for. Because the registrar deals with the paper and organizational side of collections, the display shows the object in the collection and then all of the object specifications that would be kept by the registrar.

12: Collections I chose this label to demonstrate one part of collections management that is visible to the public. The label is next to the necklace that it describes. The public might not be aware of all the work that goes into organizing a museum's collection, they just see this finished product. The manager would analyze the object, determining that it is made of bivalve shells and beads, categorize that it is a necklace, and that it is of Mohave Indian origin. The number at the bottom indicates the item number within the collection. The other part of the manager's job that also isn't made apparent to the public is all the care taken to conserve, repair, and store objects properly.

14: Conservation/Research These researchers were working with the museum's collection of fossils. I combined the two disciplines of conservation and research because they go hand-in-hand. I also thought it was interesting that these researchers would be "on display" along with other exhibits. It plays into Glasner and Zenetou's (1996) predictions on the future of museums that states, "Public and staff awareness of the importance of conservation will be promoted by institutions" (p. 252). Perhaps the museum thought it would help the visitors gain a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes.

16: IS/Media This was one of many small side video stations that supplement the surrounding exhibits. This one also covered the Pacific Northwestern tribes and cultures. Many visitors utilized them throughout the museum, both small ones like this and much larger multi-person screens. They are a great idea t convey information to the public in a different way. The explanatory placards next to the objects and panels of supplementary text provide initial information, and these videos can fill all of that out. The video here showed footage of people of the various tribes performing some of their rituals and talking about their culture. Everyone learns in a different way and these types of media are a good way to ensure that all learning types are covered, especially for children.

18: Public Affairs This sign really caught my attention. I came to the museum specifically to see this exhibit on mummies. I had seen many mummies before, both completely wrapped and those whose faces were uncovered. I understand that just because those types of things don't bother me, they could very easily bother someone else. I would think that it would be pretty obvious that when deciding to go see an exhibit that focuses on the subject of death and funerary practices, one should not be shocked about what they might see. But there is always the chance that visitors could become upset while in the exhibit and wish that they had been given some warning. While appearing pretty obvious, this is a good example of a solid public affairs policy in giving the visitor as much information as possible.

20: Educator This photo is a less obvious example of a museum educator, and coincidentally is coupled with public affairs and media. The video was on the wall in the waiting room to get into a 3-D movie. The video was showing scenes of a group of teenagers and their projects that they completed through a partnership with the museum. The video showed scenes of local teens working behind the scenes with various museum professionals and then showing off their completed projects. I found this interesting because a museum educator's job isn't always very obvious to the public. Educators not only plan field trips and activities within the museum, but as this video shows can take the museum to the community.

22: Tour Guide I couldn't tell if this gentleman was a volunteer or paid staff or if he was giving a scheduled tour or just so happened to be answering some of the visitors' questions. Regardless, a tour guide is usually the museum's most often seen representative. They can be the face of the museum and a key liaison between the museum and the public.

24: Gift Shop- Exhibit Specific This is one of four gift shops in the museum. I took this picture because this section of the shop was exhibit specific. A gift shop can be a good source of income for any museum if it is stocked with merchandise that will entice visitors. It is very strategic to match merchandise with a specific special exhibit because it will remind the buyers of their unique experience that they can't get anywhere else.

26: References Glasner, Jane R. & Zenetou, Artemis A. (1996). Museums: A Place to Work. London, UK: Routledge Press.

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  • By: Lindsey K.
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  • Title: Museum Visit Photo Essay
  • My Trip to the Field Museum, Chicago IL.
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  • Published: about 6 years ago