Creating the Visitor-centered Museum (Paperback) book cover

Creating the Visitor-centered Museum

By Peter Samis, Mimi Michaelson

© 2017 – Routledge

198 pages

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Paperback: 9781629581910
pub: 2016-11-28
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pub: 2016-12-08
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Description

What does the transformation to a visitor-centered approach do for a museum? How are museums made relevant to a broad range of visitors of varying ages, identities, and social classes? Does appealing to a larger audience force museums to “dumb down” their work? What internal changes are required? Based on a multi-year, Kress Foundation–sponsored study of ten innovative American and European collections based museums recognized by their peers to be visitor centered, Peter Samis and Mimi Michaelson answer these key questions for the field. The book:

• describes key institutions that have opened the doors to a wider range of visitors;

• addresses the internal struggles to reorganize and democratize these institutions;

• uses case studies, interviews of key personnel, Key Takeaways, and additional resources to help museum professionals implement a visitor-centered approach in collections-based institutions.

Reviews

"Creating the Visitor-Centered Museum draws together a number of international examples of successful visitor-centred museum making and explores what it is that makes them so successful. The case studies at the heart of the book provide insight into the experiences and aims of Directors, the function and purpose of multi-discipliciplinary teams, the emergence of experience designers and the changes that many curatorial and other staff feel themselves move throughas a result of what are often large-scale transformation projects. Providing a summary of some of the key issues, processes and arguments involved in so many large scale transformations in museums and galleries, the book places an emphasis on the words of those professionals involved in the projects and as such offers much needed insight into the creation of visitor-centred museums. The book is a must read for professionals involved in the remaking of museums and galleries and will provide students of museums with valuable insight into the realiies and possibilities of building truly visitor-centred museums."

— Dr Suzanne McLeod, Director and Head of School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK

"The book serves to encourage or remind current art museum professionals and to instruct and inspire future generations of practitioners."

— Diane VanderBeke Mager, The Museum Scholar

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Part One: Introduction

1. Considering the Visitor

2. Change Takes Leadership

3. Contours of Change

Part Two: Case Studies

I. Charting History

4. Denver Art Museum: Building a Sustainable Visitor-Centered Practice

II. Engaging through Audience Immersion

5. City Museum: The Power of Play

6. Ruhr Museum: Connecting Through Adaptive Reuse and Design

7. Minnesota History Center: Lessons from a Learning Team

III. Re-invigorating Traditional Museums

8. Detroit: Re-inventing a Landmark Museum with and for Visitors

9. Oakland Museum of California: Including a Diverse Public

10. Columbus Museum of Art: Museum as Community Living Room

IV. Creating Social Change

11. Kelvingrove: Museum as Cultural Commons

V. Taking a Critical Stance on Museum Practice

12. Van Abbe Museum: Radicality Meets Hospitality

13. MCA Denver: Art Experience Over Art Objects

Part Three: Conclusion: Varieties of Visitor-Centeredness and Change

Appendices

Bibliography

Photo credits

Endnotes

About the Authors

Peter Samis is Associate Curator of Interpretation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has a BA from Columbia University and an M.A. in art history from U.C. Berkeley. Samis served as art historian/content expert for 'American Visions,' the first CD-ROM on modern art (1993-94), and then spearheaded development of SFMOMA’s award-winning Interactive Educational Technology programs. He has served as Adjunct Professor in the international graduate program for Technology-Enhanced Communication for Cultural Heritage (TEC-CH) at Switzerland's University of Lugano and on the advisory boards of numerous museum organizations and collaborative software initiatives.

Mimi Michaelson is an education and museum consultant. She has a doctorate in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University, where she studied creativity, youth activism, and cognitive development. As a former Project Zero manager, she has broad research experience, including as Senior Project Manager of Harvard’s GoodWork project. She co-edited the New Directions volume, Supportive Frameworks for Youth Engagement.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARC000000
ARCHITECTURE / General
SOC003000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology