Yesterday, I started a new Future Learn course – ‘Understanding Museums as a Site and Source for Learning’. I’m going to try and get through this course fairly quickly, so I’m planning on doing daily or near-daily posts with my notes from the course – my previous post is here.
How to engage different audience groups
The next section of the course Museums as a site and source for learning: Week One looked at how to engage and accommodate different types of audiences.
The first was children, where the emphasis is on engaging them via different senses – exhibits, workshops and activities that use sight, sound etc., as well as a focus on interactive activities that both confirm skills and experiences they already have (the example given was around basic literacy) as well as providing new experiences.
The key person in this video was the facilitators, in encouraging children to vocalise their thoughts, and come to conclusions via their own ideas rather than being told answers.
Deaf Visitors, and visitors with hearing loss
The next video looked at the issues of providing information in museums in a way which can be translated into British Sign Language, as specialised language might not be translatable. Public tours with transcripts don’t really work either, as it can lose specific details.
It’s also important to ensure that text-based information in exhibitions is clearly visible and easy to read.
A video interviewing deaf visitors, we are asked to consider previous info about putting exhibits into lived context – can the museums’ content be related to artists/historical figures with deafness
The course gave an example of a staff member in a gallery giving an audio description of a painting. This is an important way to engage visitors, but it is also a skill that would require training.
The final section discussed the issues that museums and galleries have had in engaging young people who may not feel that the content is relevant to them, or may be nervous about coming into a building, especially when they worry that they may automatically be regarded with suspicion by staff and security. Many cultural institutions have issues with this, and have different ways of making a place seem more welcoming, or more relaxed, holding parties etc. Also, young people are (and should be) encouraged to have opinions on the arts, even if they don’t like it or find it irrelevant, and not be afraid of being wrong.
The last part of Week One covers some elements of how museums and galleries use social media to engage, so I’ll be looking over that, and whipping up a quick set of notes tomorrow. After that, it’s August… I mean Blaugust… and I’ll see there that goes!