BC: Created By: Lacey N. Mills 2013 For Educational Programming for Museums Audiences course at Johns Hopkins University
FC: My Visit to the Andy Warhol Museum | March 29, 2013
1: *Note: Photography was only permitted on the ground floor of the museum, but not in any of the galleries.
2: Program Observed: Weekday Gallery Talks by Artist Educators Occurrence of Program: Every day at 1 p.m. The Warhol's description of the program: "Each weekday at 1pm we invite interested visitors to join in a gallery talk led by one of The Warhol's artist educators. Each talk will have a thematic focus around a series of works or a Warhol process. The subjects may include - but are not limited to - Warhol’s photographic silkscreen process, abstraction in Warhol’s work, appropriation, beauty and reality in commissioned portraits, the dark side of American consumerism, Warhol’s technology, and more. The 30 minute talk provides time for visitors to present their own perceptions and or questions about the works of art."
4: My Experience...
5: To begin this project, I first had to find a museum to visit. There are not museums in my community, and the closest is about two hours away, so traveling was a must. I scoured the Internet looking for educational programs at museums in Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and stumbled across this gallery talk program at the Warhol. | My trip to the Warhol museum took about three hours from where I live. I have visited a couple times before, but had never attended a program at the museum. I had emailed the museum, and received confirmation that the gallery talk would be occurring the day of my visit.
6: When arriving I asked about the tour, and a staff member at the front desk said the gallery talk should still be set for 1 p.m., and to meet in the timeline gallery on the ground floor (only place pictures are allowed), as the talk would take place in there. My boyfriend, who accompanied me to the museum, and I explored the timeline of Warhol's life and waited for someone to show up at the meeting sign for the talk. 1 o'clock came, and no one was there. 1:05, no one there. At 1:10 I was pretty nervous, because I needed this experience for my classwork, and I approached the front desk again to ask if the guide was coming. The front desk called down to the education department, and told me a museum educator would be on their way up. Whhhewww! I was relieved. I was rather disappointed I had to go through that to experience the gallery talk. If a museum states visitors are to meet at a certain spot for a gallery talk, which is an everyday occurrence, and no one is there to give the tour, there is a problem with that and can create for a poor visitor experience.
7: I should also point out, my boyfriend and I were the only people there for the gallery talk. I would speculate that the Warhol has not put much into advertising the program. I found the information about it easily on their website, but I doubt information is out there to reel in visitors for the gallery talk. I was able to learn about it, because I was seeking out the information. | Colbert (2008) states, "Poor customer service can ruin the quality of the artistic or leisure experience..." (p. 114). The start of this museum experience definitely made me cast a negative judgment on the program. However, as the program begin, my opinion quickly changed...
8: Then...in came Leah, museum educator at the Warhol, and the gallery talk began.
9: Leah walked us around the gallery that is covered, floor to ceiling, with a timeline of Warhol's life. She highlighted facts about his personal life, artwork, and even shared information not present on the timeline. Even though I knew most of the information she shared with us, it was very interesting, and she kept us engaged. My boyfriend, Tim Murray, said in reference to the talk, "It was nice because she told me stuff that was probably written on the walls, but I would not have taken the time to read everything. "
10: Tim outside of the museum. | When people are presented with an overwhelming amount of information, they will pick and choose what to read. Some even just look at images or artworks. It is interesting that Tim highlighted this aspect of human nature, and applauded the gallery talk for engaging him in the subject matter, whereas he otherwise would not have gone so deeply into.
11: Next came what Leah called her "bag of tricks"...
12: The best part of the gallery talk was when Leah dug into her "bag of tricks," and pulled out a silkscreen and showed us an example of how Warhol created his silk-screened works of art.
13: She told us, and showed us a small example, of the step by step process Warhol used to create his most famous works. I learned that Warhol first painted a base color on his canvases with acrylic paint, and then silk-screened the images on top of that. I did not know this! I always thought he screened a based coat on the background. I found this very interesting, and loved learning something new! | This demonstration inspired me to dust off the silk-screening equipment I have in my classroom, and put it to use!
14: After the showing of the silkscreen process, the tour concluded, and Leah invited us down to "The Factory" after we toured the galleries at our own leisure. | The Factory is a space where visitors can create work like Andy Warhol did. They have a silkscreen station, a blotted line drawing table, and a collage table. It is free with admission, and there are several museum education staff there to assist those in need.
15: THE FACTORY | The Factory was very fun and interesting. I felt it was a great space that would engage several of Falk's visitor types, including facilitators (saw many adults with kids), explorers (provides a deeper exploration into Warhol's work), experience seekers (one-of-a-kind experience...do not have an art making opportunities like this at many museums), and even rejuvinators (it was realaxing to sit and create). It might please a hobbyist if they were an artist too. (Falk 2009)
17: Reflection | Overall, my experience at the Warhol was a very good one. It started off a little rocky with the artist educator for the gallery talk not showing up, but the program was great, and the Factory was fabulous. My opinion upon departure was a shining one. As the Factory had many participants, the gallery talk did not. This was nice, because it made it a personal experience for my boyfriend and I, as the guides full attention was on us. However, it was so good that I would want more people to know about it and attend. I believe the Warhol should spend more efforts, even if they do not have money to for this (there are free ways to utilize), on advertising their great, FREE, programs. I follow the Warhol on social media, and they post frequently. That would be a great, free, avenue for them to use to spread the word about the programs they offer and invite more visitors to participate. However they do it, I stand firm on my assertion that their education department needs more marketing.
18: References- Colbert, Francois. (2008). "Program Marketing." In Arts and Cultural Programming: A Leisure Perspective, edited by Gaylene Carpenter and Doug Blandy, 114. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics. Falk, John H. (2009). "The Visitor." In Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. Walnut Creek: Left Coast. The Warhol. (2013). Weekday Gallery Talks by Artist Educators. Retrieved from http://www.warhol.org/webcalendar/event.aspx?id=5446