Be There… Be With…

There is nothing like walking into a nice building filled curious items you know absolutely nothing about with no labels or signs and no one to guide you or answer your questions despite the neat little benches arranged as for an audience.

#1 Be There 

Be where? Be there for the visitors. Be where visitors will have questions. Be where they will be curious. When planning an event, you need to anticipate what visitors will want to know more about in order to have a guide or historical interpreter there.  Come up with a list of locations visitors will likely have questions or inquiries. This could be at medical scenarios, demonstrations of arms, near cooking demonstrations. No list is ever set in stone from year to year or event to event. You must observe and adapt. Watch visitors. Talk with them. Find out what they learns and liked. Find out what questions they have that weren’t answered during the event. Then adapt. Add to the original list of locations or change locations. Always strive to be there for the visitors; be their guides bas they connect with history.

#2 Be With

Be with your visitors. Sure you are portraying history, teaching history. But, each visitor’s experience should be visitor focused because no two visitors are alike. Each person has a different base knowledge. While one person may remember using a pierce tin barn lantern, while another may think it is a cheese grater. Both deserve the best individualized attention you can give.  When talking with a visitor, do you best to see what they see. truly listen to what they are saying, what they are asking and what they are not asking. By focusing on the visitor, you will be able to convey what you are teaching in the best way for the visitor.

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is it wrong of me to want signs with explanations? I know modern museums think these are wrong, and eschew them, but I just hate that trend. I remember very well being a young girl and loving to be ALONE in a museum, and loving to read the explanations. Sigh….

  2. Very good point. I am a fan of signage in the right places and done right.
    In an indoor museum, I personally prefer light signage such as lables rather than heavy block text. I would rather have the block text in a piece of guide literature so I can read it as I like. I often have trouble with the glare on block text panels and trouble focusing on panels flat on the wall. I have less of a problem with panels I can look down on. Interestingly, the darker the panel, the easier for me.
    At a LH event, it would be challenging to keep signage uniform, or set to a “brand standard”, if they are produced by individuals or participating groups. If the LH event is on the site of a museum or other historic setting it would be a costly expectation to have of the site. Good signage is not cheap. Bad signage is just bad.

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