“The Experience Economy”

Previously, when I visited museums and exhibitions, I was a passive recipient of the information around me, such as cues emphasizing the theme of the museum. However, after reading “The Experience Economy,” I was amazed to learn that these seemingly unintentional elements inside exhibitions are intentionally staged to enhance the visitor experience. For example, several years ago, I attended an exhibition about green witches that was both entertaining and immersive. Workers inside the exhibition wore various costumes that symbolized their understandings and perceptions of the images of green witches. Everything inside the exhibition was made in different shades of green, including environmental habitats consisting of green bushes and butterfly models. The exhibition had a vast collection of memorabilia, including green stickers and a card signifying visitors’ designated green witch names, recycling bags, paintings, and fragrances that were specifically designed to fit the theme. By perfectly utilizing these elements to shape a unified and cohesive storyline and incorporating different sensory experiences, such as visual and olfactory experiences, visitors could leave the exhibition with a magical impression of the entire experience.

For a good exhibition, intentionally staged elements for a better visitor experience should appear natural to the visitors. However, these elements, although they help visitors better define their experience, are often motivated by the economic profits institutions could gain from them. It is thus essential to ensure that this cynical motive goes “undetected” by visitors to avoid disturbing their experience with such thoughts. I wonder what efforts exhibitions could make to mitigate this potentially negative impact.

“First Time And Repeat Visitors: What makes a Satisfactory Museum Experience”

One thing that stands out to me in the reading “First Time And Repeat Visitors: What makes a Satisfactory Museum Experience” is the increased distribution bias towards females and local residents among repeat visitors when compared to first-time visitors. If a museum’s repeat visitors are predominantly females and residents living within driving distances, it means that the programming and design of the museum is not effectively reaching all demographic groups. This not only affects the creation of a diverse and inclusive environment in the museum, but it also prohibits the visitors from facilitating communications with people with more varied backgrounds. Therefore, to address this bias, I believe that museums, after analyzing their audience data, can develop more targeted outreach and marketing strategies to specifically attract the typically underrepresented groups among museum repeat visitors. For instance, to better appeal to male visitors, museums can occasionally host special events and exhibitions featuring sports and technology, topics that match males visitors’ interest more. In order to better reach visitors from farther away physical locations, museums can develop collaborations with travel companies, creating more accommodations and special packages for tourists. They could also make better use of online resources and advertisement for people from outside the local area, either rendering them the same experience digitally or better motivate them to visit the museum in person.

One concern I have regarding taking the aforementioned targeted approaches to address the situation is that I am worried about museums potentially losing the previously dominant groups, females and local residents. If they notice that a lot of the actions of the museums are specifically tailored to the taste and needs of males and tourists, they might feel like they are being disregarded and lack interest in the museums. Therefore, as the museums make efforts to make demographic groups among repeat visitors more balanced, they should also keep in mind the original strategies that made specific groups more inclined to revisit.