In Nina Simon’s TED Talk, “Opening Up the Museum,” she expresses a desire for museums to create a space for participatory culture. There are opportunities missed if museums are just spaces for looking at cultural objects and at each other, when people who go to museums should be actively engaging with cultural objects and each other. Though, there shouldn’t be a type of “people who go to museums”, but there are the types of people museums have historically been built for. These target audiences are intellectuals, experts in fine art, those who aren’t necessarily looking to be introduced to new cultural understandings but to expand on those they already have in place. Simon believes the target audience of a museum should really be everyone in the community.
Museums are community spaces. Simon talked a lot about how exhibits and artifacts should promote communal learning and interpersonal connections. Briefly, Simon mentions that most museums don’t even have spaces for people to sit down and talk about the works. This is an important point: a museum as a community space goes beyond just the contents of the museum, but the structure of the museum itself. Museums should be accessible to everyone - at a minimum, this means more seating. Many museums have also begun to offer pay what you want programs and have certain nights a month when entrance is free. The MET lets New York State residents and tri-state area students pay what they wish, which is a prime example of accessibility and engagement with the local community. Simon promotes the museum as a communal space - everyone should feel as though they belong in that museum, and when they leave the museum, they should feel not only inspired to learn even more, but as if their own experiences are something worth learning about.