Museums as entertainment

Usually when we talk about museums, the general perception is that they are culture and that they exist outside of what we consider entertainment. However when we consider how we divide the time in our day, museums and culture in general definitely take place during our free time.

The implication is that culture competes with entertainment in a daily basis. People have to choose between  a soccer match, a movie, a night out or going to a cultural event. While working at the Norwich Castle I talked to the curators about this phenomena and they mentioned that on days that big sporting events happened, the museum was almost empty, and that this pattern repeated itself with other such events. Yet museums barely attempt to compete.

While museums shouldn’t be places where we buy popcorn and a soda and walk around them, the diffusion of events and their marketing should attempt to capture the attention of the general public. More specifically the attention of the particular age and culture group the exhibition belongs to. Nevertheless the most popular answer, specifically the answer when the museum lacks a design department or employs untrained designers, is a photograph of one of the objects in the exhibition behind a black or white background and the name of the exhibition in big usually sans-serif fonts.

Deep down we could just change the object and the name of the exhibition while retaining all the other elements intact and no deep changes would have happened. They are thoroughly and inherently interchangeable. And yet we expect to draw people in to exhibitions using the plainest of posters in existence. In the other hand concerts feature carefully crafted posters designed to capture the eye, and draw crowds in. The first part in getting people into a venue is to announce it through the appropriate channels and to produce captivating advertisements.

Until the museums that take this halfhearted approach to difusion, change, culture will still be seen as boring, and not worth of the use of our spare time. Let’s hope by the time they realize that this translates into lost revenue, it isn’t too late.


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