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Museum Visit Photo Essay

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Museum Visit Photo Essay - Page Text Content

S: THE FLAGLER MUSEUM BY Sean S. McGraw for Johns Hopkins 2012

BC: Copyright. 2012 Sean S. McGraw

FC: THE FLAGLER MUSEUM | A Photo Essay for Johns Hopkins AAP Museum Studies by Sean S. McGraw


2: At historic homes and sites, the primary "object" preserved and maintained by the staff is the facility and/or grounds (Schlatter, 2008, p. 26). The Flagler Museum is the home of the late Henry FLagler, who was a hotel mogul and the man behind building the rail road to Key West. As I walked through the Flagler museum I recorded (through the photos in this book) some examples of the work and focus of museum staff. In this record I present here a frame by frame sequence of events beginning with the entry into the museum. In compiling these images I hope to further understand and display fundamental aspects of museum professions and professionals via the specific parts of the museum that they deal with on a day to day basis. As I begin on the first page at the ticketing booth I hope you will enjoy this virtual tour into the varied aspects of museum staff and their interesting responsibilities and effects on the museum and visitor experience. = | INTRODUCTION

3: Before entering the grounds of the museum you must first purchase an admission ticket. The entrance gate and ticket booth are both illustrated in the photo above. As the pointer indicates there is a single staff member present in the ticketing booth during normal business hours. This museum staff member works with the visitor management staff and in conjunction with security and visitor relations. At larger venues a visitor services manager night handle these types of ticketing roles. Since the Flagler Museum is a smaller institution, the visitor services manager may not be necessary (Schlatter, 2008, p. 94).

4: Once the visitor has entered the museum proper he/she is immediately greeted by museum staff docent who offers different forms of tours. The visitor has the option of a self guided tour by means of a brochure; an audio tour via a hand held device; and/or docent led tours that start at specific times. As the picture indicates the docent is standing and interacting with visitors as they enter, versus sitting at the reception desk. This really helps visitors feel welcome and open to ask questions that they might otherwise not have asked. Also this active involvement helps decrease the number of visitors who feel that they might have missed parts of exhibits or felt frustrated by means of open flow of information from staff to visitor. Through organized guided tours and programs, the docent leads visitors in encountering, experiencing, and enjoying objects and artifacts in exhibitions (Glaser, Zenetou, 1996, p. 89).

5: Above is a quick shot of the security staff in action. The guard on duty is set up in the main gallery at the main entrance. He is corralled in with multiple monitors showing live feeds from different areas of the museum. AS the visitors move through the museum they encounter no real security. This is due to the camera system and the quick access to most parts of the exhibits by the guard on duty (pictured above). Also I found that t the Flagler Museum it seems all museum staff play an active role in security by means of alertness as the move around the museum during visiting hours. It seems, Museum protection is everybody's business, and every museum and all museum staff have a stake in protecting the building, the collections, the exhibits, the staff, and the public who visit (Glaser, Zenetou, 1996, p. 115).

6: In the picture above we can see one of a series of security measures in the Flagler Museum. This camera is just one of many located throughout the museum and one of the cameras tied in to the security live feeds at the security desk. This high vantage point gives an excellent view of most of the main gallery and works as a daily record of events in the museums galleries. This camera and others in the museum fall under the domain of the IT staff in making sure they are functioning correctly.

7: In the photo above we can see visitors actively involved in utilizing the audio guided tour I had mentioned earlier. Around the visitors we can also see partitions that keep the flow of visitors moving through the museum exhibits. These partitions also help maintain collections by preventing visitors from touching and handling the objects. Installing of these preventative measures was most likely joint venture between the curator, exhibits staff and the conservator. The curator and conservator would decide on what measures would be effective in keeping visitors out of exhibits while the exhibits staff would create and install these systems.

8: In this photo we can clearly see the safety measures involved in case of fire. Every person at the museum would be trained in emergency situations. From the director and curator all the way down to the custodian and volunteers. With this in mind the Security Chief is really the one directly responsible for making sure things like fire extinguishers are up to date, charged and ready to go in case of an emergency. The SEcurity Chief is responsible for the protection of the building, its collections, and its visitors and staff from theft, fire, injury, and other damage (Glaser, Zenetou, 1996. p. 115).

9: In the above photo we can clearly see carpeting installed to help with visitor safety and floor longevity (the floor in this case is an object that falls under conservation and collections). Also in this gallery we can see an array of items that the conservators have to constantly maintain. In just one room the conservators deal with musical instruments, paintings on canvas, and upholstered furniture. These objects along with chandeliers and decorative moldings are quite an undertaking for the conservation staff.

10: As I moved through the museum I became aware of the safety measures taken for visitors along with accommodations for people with disabilities. In the above photo we can see a ramp with railings built over stairs giving access to those who might have problems accessing a room from stairs, while also giving support by means of railing for all visitors. This type of accommodation usually falls on the exhibit staff, who is responsible for deigning and building these types of access points unless they are outsourced to an independent contractor.

11: Just like most museums the Flagler has a museum store filled with books and items relating to early Florida history. The store falls under the domain of the marketing department. This also includes visitor relations and the publishing department as many of the books and printed materials including the sign pictured above are part of printed materials. These printed images are deigned by in house or outsourced graphic designers.

12: The Museum also has an interior gala hall in which special events and weddings take place. As the picture indicates, the area is sunken and separated by ironwork from collections, thus helping with preservation efforts. This area is the domain of the special events coordinator. Marketing professionals like Judy Thompson of the Missouri Zoo are employed in making the most of the ground and spaces in the museum for fund raising and private events. It is no coincidence that the museum store is adjacent to this event location as many custom souvenirs are sold for special events hosted by the Flagler Museum.

13: Signage is very prevalent, in each gallery there are signs similar to the one above indicating what number button to push on the audio tours . Here we see the same type of signage used to denote off limits areas. Also the museum store is visible to the left as the entrance to the store is off camera and accessible.

14: The grounds also comprise part of the museum. In these pictures I wanted to show a problem indicative to south Florida here at Palm Beach. In these photos You can see holes in the coconut palms at the museums. The holes have a rust bleed that is apparent in the photos. This is the result of yellow blight which ravaged palms along Palm Beach after the 1940's . The holes are there to inject a solution which keeps the tree alive, without the solution these majestic old palms would certainly die.

15: The final aspect of museums that I want to discuss here are those museums that have landscaping and grounds as part of their exhibits. With so many different plants and trees many times visitors will looks for the inclusion of plant species identifiers. These identifiers can usually be seen along paths where trees, flowers and shrubs are present. The indicators usually have the plants scientific name along with its origin and sometimes its historical uses. Museums with extensive vegetative surroundings may have a full time gardener and lawn/garden staff.

16: In Conclusion, There are so many great people involved in a museums function and mission. Together these individuals make up our museum experience and perceptions of what a museum is. Whether the visitor's experience is good or bad is in large a part a direct effect of how these museum professionals understand their respective roles and implement their talents. After this small investigation into a significant cultural site in the south eastern United States I will be more open and aware of the energies and roles these museum professionals direct towards my own visiting experience and I feel I have a much firmer understanding of the vast array of museum professions. Sean S. McGraw, October 28, 2012

17: References Glaser, J.R., & Zenetou, A.A (1996). Museums: A place to work (p. 84). New York, NY: Routledge. Schlatter, N. E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. New York, NY: Routledge. Thompson, J. (2008, December 10). Johns Hopkins University: Exploring museum professions, interviews with today’s museum professionals. Retrieved from

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  • Title: Museum Visit Photo Essay
  • JHU Museum Studies Project Fall 2012 Sean S. McGraw
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  • Published: over 5 years ago