What is a Museum?
One thing I want to comment on is the mention of the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I have been to this museum many times, and it is definitely one of my favorites. The Exploratorium is an extremely interactive museum - you can touch almost everything, and it is a place of learning, not of looking. It is primarily intended for kids, but they have stuff to do that is interesting to everyone. I would say that the Exploratorium is my favorite example of a new-age museum. In this article, and the ones from last week, the authors pointed out that modern museums need to become disconnected from the objects that they own or use. I was really struggling with this concept, as I personally felt that the objects are what define a museum. I go to a museum because there are specific objects I want to see, rather than going to a museum for the experience that the museum is going to create for me. I think this is especially true for art museums. I also am struggling with the concept of the online museum - I personally feel that I assign less value to things I see on the internet than in person, mainly due to how easy it is to use. It seems way less special to view something on the internet than in person. However, the mention of the Exploratoium helped me reshape my view of modern museums. I still do not believe that online museums are a good solution, but the Exploratorium does a great job of creating interactive experiences for the guests that go beyond the objects that they hold.
How the Pandemic Changed Museums Forever (or Did It?)
I think that virtual museums are tricky for two reasons. First, I do not think technology is good enough now to recreate the in person viewing experience. I personally strongly dislike 3D tours on the internet. Using a keyboard and mouse is such a non intuitive way to pass through a space. The places you can go are very limited (usually you can just pick the center spot of a few rooms) and provide too much rigidity. Second, I am concerned that this will turn away the casual museum-goer. Museums attract a lot of different types of people - people who are fascinated by the art or content, people who are there for the architecture of the building, people there just to hang out and read, and people who just happen to stop by and look for something to do. When a museum is online, you only really attract the people who are really into the content that the museum has. While I love going to museums, I never even considered looking into online museums during the pandemic.
Bouncing back: the US museums that have regained the visitors lost to Covid closures
I thought this was a very interesting article. I did not realize that larger museums have been suffering much more than small to medium sized ones post-pandemic, but I would say this has been consistent with my personal preferences. People are more interested in specialization now, and smaller museums can focus more on creating more relevant experiences and exhibits to the people that are visiting. Huge museums that have a wide variety of experiences and works can more easily be replaced by digital means. This is also consistent with what was mentioned in the readings from last week, where it was explained that museums will shift to a hyper local focus. I think the pandemic expedited this change as people have been searching for more unique and meaningful experiences.