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Museum Visit Photo Essay - Ryan Griffith

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BC: Overall Experience | This was a very interesting assignment that highlighted to me how complex the development of a museum is. Each exhibit relies on many different museum professionals. I think that the best exhibits in this museum most likely had the most amount of collaboration among colleagues. It also highlighted how little the museum seems to value the visitor experience. Their staffing numbers are extremely low, there are almost no interactives, and finding staff with baseline knowledge about the exhibits was borderline impossible. This museum has a lot of potential and could be made a lot better with some minor changes. Sadly, it seems unlikely that they will be putting money into updating their exhibits anytime soon. References: Schlatter. N (2008). Museum Careers: A Practical Guide for Students and Novices. Left Coast Press Inc. Walnut Creek, CA Glaser & Zenetou (1996). Museums: A Place to Work. Routledge. Abingdon, Oxon


1: ENTRANCE | Ticketing Counter | Visitor Information Area | The main roles involved here are the Director, Evaluation Specialist, Membership Staff, Visitor Services Staff, and Security Staff. The Director would be involved with the membership staff, who have clearly done a less than stellar job as this area was vacant during my entire visit. When I asked the gentleman at the ticket counter about what the museum has on offer he referred me to the empty visitor information area. When told it was empty he shrugged his shoulders. This is a poor example of customer service and organization. The Membership Staff would generally be present here to discuss membership opportunities to the public. However I could find no evidence of any membership programs. This is the area where Visitor Services would be involved with admission ticketing and visitor information desks. This seems to be quite poorly done as there is one gentleman at the ticketing counter and nobody to answer any questions. The Security would provide support and crowd control in the ticketing area. They did have an office directly across the ticketing counter but the one officer was watching a video on his mobile phone when I looked inside.

2: LOBBY | The main roles involved in the Lobby area are the Curator, Photographer/Image researcher, Media Specialist, Director, Exhibit and Lighting Staff, Exhibit Designer, and Educator. The Curator was involved by researching and writing the text that was to be displayed along with help from the Educators and Exhibit Designers. Together they created these panels which were very high, with the top portions being difficult to see. The text was also quite heavy on each of these panels which you can see in the two bottom photos on the right. The Photographers and Image researchers were responsible for the myriad images that accompany the displays throughout the lobby. These were actually quite decent and the nicest part of the displays. Although it was a mixed bag of new and old photos, with the older ones being lower quality. The Media Specialist and the Exhibit and Lighting Staff would have been involved in the filming and installation of cameras for the media elements. This was done extremely poorly as you could barely see the videos. The videos contained no subtitles or sound so it was not accessible. They did not take into account the large amounts of natural light that come in during the day which ruins the media experience. The placement of the cameras could have been put in darker areas that allowed the videos to be seen by visitors during the day. Educators were involved in text development and interactive elements (top right picture). The text was fine albeit not engaging. The most disappointing part was the interactive elements. There are five different cases which show different parts of the country of Bahrain and the location of different sites. When you push a button, that attraction lights up. These models were very poorly designed by the exhibit designers. Their lack of detail and monochromatic surfaces make them very boring. There is also no indication as to what the learning outcome of this interactive is.

4: MUSEUM SHOP | The main roles involved are the Museum Shop Staff, Security, Exhibit Designer, Lighting Staff, Library Staff, Print/Publications Staff, and Finance Museum Shop Staff involved in day to day operations and sales of items. Most of the items are neatly organized for sale and the shelves are kept in good order. Exhibit Designer involved in remodeling which took place in February. Updated style is much nicer and the jewelry is much more secure than it was in their previous cases. They have also given more open space to wander freely whereas before it had more rows of shelves. Lighting Staff has worked to highlight the items on display. Overall the lighting in the room was good and the items for sale were all highlighted by spotlights. But the lights themselves were tucked away so the direct light never shone in the eyes of the visitor. Library Staff was involved in the selection of books. The selection of books is a mixed bag with some being new and relevant looking. However many books were very old and will likely never be sold. There was even a VHS tape among the mix. Also this was the least organized section of the Museum Shop. The books seemed to be thrown together with no coherent theme tying them together. Print/Publications staff were involved in the creation of books and materials for sale. These self-produced books about the museum were in piles with the other books that covered a variety of different subjects. Security had a small table housed outside the museum shop, although the security guard was not present for the majority of my visit. During busy times though his presence is necessary as a lot of the jewelry is quite expensive. Lastly the Finance officer would be involved monitoring daily purchases and to identify trends in the selling of objects.

6: CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS | The main roles involved are Curator, Exhibit designer, Preparator, Exhibit Lighting Staff, Educator, and Photographer/Image researcher. The Curator was involved in organizing the exhibition themes, choosing the objects, and writing the text. Portions of this would be done with other members of staff as well, but they developed theme and oversaw the installation. The Exhibit Designer would have worked with the Curator to ensure their vision was represented properly in this exhibition. The design of this exhibit is fine but outdated. It's clear that it has not changed since it was originally installed when the museum opened. It's also not very visually appealing or engaging. The Preparator would have worked alongside the Exhibit Designer to build cases, source and install mannequins and replica items, as well as install graphics around the gallery. The panels are placed well, but the content is quite dull. The educator would have worked on this as well and failed to make the text very engaging. It seems they relied on the exhibits themselves to be the main attraction. However without any interactive elements at all, the end experience is not very engaging and has become dated. The Exhibit Lighting and Staff have worked well to highlight different portions of the exhibit. Some models are better lit than others, but for some reason the entire perimeter wall was brightly lit. This created a glare on many pictures and washed out portions of text. This could create accessibility issues for the visually impaired. The Photographer/Image researcher would have been crucial in supplying appropriate images and photographs to complement the exhibit and graphic panels.

8: TEMPORARY EXHIBITION | The main roles involved in the Temporary Exhibition are the Registrar, Curator, Exhibition designer, Preparator, Exhibit and Lighting Staff, Educator, Conservator, Security Staff, CFO, Facilities Manager, Print/Publications Staff, Photographer, Security, Marketing staff, Webmaster, and Development Officer. Depending on how the temporary exhibition has originated, and based upon the presumption that this temporary production was done in house, the Curator would come up with a theme and assess the feasibility of producing this with the collections resources via the Registrar. They would then consult with the Facilities Manager (and anyone else involved in programming) to ensure the availability of this space. Next they would consult with the CFO to see if there is adequate funding available for said exhibition. If not they would work with the Development Officer to acquire the funds needed through fundraising. Then the content development stage begins with the Curator and Educators writing content. Curator will also source the objects which may involve loans, which would then require the help of the Registrar. Next they would work in conjunction with the Exhibition designer and Conservator to ensure appropriate displays and environmental conditioning. Next the Photographer would work alongside the Marketing Staff, Print/Publications staff, and Webmaster to promote awareness of the temporary exhibit through a variety of means (catalogues, marketing campaigns, website, social media, etc.). Lastly, the Security Staff would implement appropriate protocols for gallery space as required. This was by far the most interesting and modern part of the museum. The exhibition itself was pretty interesting and there were nice examples of clothing and textiles. Sadly the display panels were so text heavy that it was hard to keep your attention focused on them.

11: SIGNAGE | The main roles involved with signage are the Exhibit designer, Curator, Facilities Manager, Photographer/Image researcher, Translator, and Educator. For the informational panels the Curators would work with the Educators to develop text. THey would then work with the Photographer/Image Researcher and Exhibit designer to ensure that the graphic panels were cohesive within the gallery and complement the exhibits. The Facilities manager would work on the different signs that involve wayfinding within the building. Lastly, the translator would be involved in all of the above examples as they are all in Arabic and English. What was apparent though is the lack of cohesiveness with the English and Arabic. There does not appear to be a unified template for how to display the languages. Sometimes they are represented horizontally, other times vertically, and even at other time diagonally.

12: HALL OF GRAVES | The main roles involved in this exhibition are the Curator, Exhibit designer, Exhibit and Lighting Staff, Photographer/Image researcher, Educator, Conservator, Registrar, and Preparator. The Curator developed the theme for the exhibition. Then worked with the Registrar to identify the pieces within the collection that are best suited for this exhibit. Then with the support of the Educators they would develop the storyboard and text for the exhibition. Then the Registrar and Curator would work together with the Exhibit designer to ensure they are developing proper exhibition cases, object mounts, and decide on the appropriate layout of the exhibition. This would also require input from the Conservator if specialist mounts or environmental conditions are required for certain objects. Next the Exhibit and Lighting staff would work with the aforementioned parties to execute the plan they were provided. The Photographer/Image researcher would have worked with the Curator, Educators, and Exhibit designers to ensure that the imagery provided was accurate and appropriate. This was another permanent exhibit that was not very engaging. It only consisted of objects and panels. But this to me raised ethical issues. From what I could tell some of these bones are not replicas and appear to be originals. This is something that the Curator would have considered, but it has the potential to make the visitor uncomfortable. We've heard about organizations like NAGRPA, which are extremely important. It doesn't appear that a similar organization is present here.

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  • By: Ryan G.
  • Joined: about 6 years ago
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  • Title: Museum Visit Photo Essay - Ryan Griffith
  • My visit to the Bahrain National Museum
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  • Published: about 6 years ago