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Museum Visit

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1: Upon arrival at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, California we were prompted to go to the ticket booth. (Left) Run by employees of the Visitor Services department, the representative was pleasant and patient as I found my student ID to receive a discount on my ticket. When I entered the Conservatory, I was greeted by another Visitor Services employee and handed a guide book with current exhibitions and a map of the grounds. (Above) She was very pleasant and answered questions.

2: The curatorial staff and exhibition designers were present throughout all of the different facets of the Conservatory. From the placards to the design of the greenhouses, I could really see the attention to detail that was involved in the created of the Conservatory and each exhibit. In the photograph, there is a placard that explains the different flowers in that area. (Top left) While the original design of the greenhouse was produced by an architect, they would have had to work closely with the curatorial staff to meet specifications of the exhibit needs and for the changing of exhibits over the years. The stained glass adds a touch of color without taking away from the beauty of the plants in each different room. (Bottom left) Each exhibit was well planned out and had a variety of different plants to view.

3: Even though the exhibitions in the Conservatory are mostly living materials, there will still be a collections staff involved in the care and execution of each exhibit. (Above left) The other photograph is a great example of the use of technology within the museum setting. The curatorial and exhibition staff members would be responsible for this type of addition in the Conservatory. By scanning the RQ code (Above right) the visitor has the option to read about each plant in the exhibit. Another option visitors have is to call and hear about the exhibit via telephone. These were all over the Conservatory and useful in spreading knowledge about each plant. The Information Systems staff probably played a role in the development of this system for the exhibitions. Rather than reading a long sign at each stop, I was able to incorporate technology into my experience.

4: These photographs highlight the roles of Conservator, the Collections staff, and the Exhibition and Lighting staff. | In a living museum, there are many important aspects of care of the plants. Each exhibition had a different climate (temperature, humidity, and lighting) and these climates control the care of the plants in each room. The tools of this process were hidden but I was able to find a few that highlight the care necessary for these exhibits. (The hose and the sprinkler systems that were in place in each exhibit.) Seeing all of the different tools made me think about all of the effort that must go into a museum that thrives on their exhibition of a variety of living objects.

5: The special exhibit that I viewed while at the Conservatory was about butterflies. Being a plant and flower museum, this exhibit probably required the help of outside sources since their specialty is plants. The CFO, the Director, and the Board of Trustees probably worked closely with the Curator when developing, designing, and budgeting this exhibition. I was excited to be in a room filled with butterflies and this was a unique experience for me and my family members.

6: The Marketing and Media staff had to create special signs for the butterfly exhibit. These signs specifically thank the sponsors, promote the construction company, and educate visitors about the design process. This surprised me because I have never noticed the promotion of or the thanking of the exhibit designers or construction workers before.

7: The below photograph highlights the necessity of a Safety and Security staff. Safety is usually a top priority for museums and having exits labeled is a great place to start. | The above photograph refers to the Maintenance staff and also probably a Conservator or a Collections Manager. While under renovation, the area was closed off but the objects (plants) were still in the area. While constructing, the care of the plants would be extremely important and a Conservator or a Collections Manager could watch over the project for the safety of the plants.

8: The museum store was located at the entrance of the butterfly exhibit. There was one store clerk working while I was there. The store had a variety of items but mostly focused on the current exhibit. The Museum Store staff would probably be assisted by a Marketing Specialist when choosing the items that would be displayed in the store. I thought the store was well-put together and had a nice layout.

9: The C0nservatory of Flowers did not allow food or drink inside of the museum but they did have a concession stand upon the visitor's exit. (Above) I am not positive where this fits in the museum setting but I assume the Visitor Services staff runs the concessions. This was a nice touch when I left the museum because I was thirsty from all of the climate changes that occurred! Another nice touch upon my exit, probably created by Visitor Services was the penny flattening machine. (Left) This was fun and brought me back to when I was young and would go to the zoo or museums in Chicago!

10: The last thing I experienced at the Conservatory of Flowers was the donation box. This was the only part of the museum I saw that related to the Membership and Development staff. First, there was a paper that explained the new technologies of the museum. It explains the new online ways of connecting with the Conservatory and the Cell Phone Tour that I mentioned earlier. The donation box was behind this sign. It was uniquely designed in the shape of the Conservatory. Like I said, this was the only mention of donations throughout the entire museum. This was refreshing because I feel like in many non-profit settings, the first thing, and middle thing, and last thing you see always pertain to a donation to the institution. Development and Membership staff are constantly vying for attention from visitors to increase revenue. By subtly asking for a donation at my exit, I felt more inclined to do so. Especially after being so enchanted by the many exotic florals and of course, the beautiful butterflies.


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  • By: Jessica M.
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  • Title: Museum Visit
  • Photo Essay
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  • Published: over 5 years ago