Museum Matters

This week, we read Nina Simon’s The Participatory Museum and discussed the myriad of ways museums can encourage visitors to engage, participate, and contribute. Simon’s book is full of rich examples highlighting the different levels of visitor participation. Examples vary from exhibits that allow visitors to rank their favorite objects and artwork to exhibits that visitors can create themselves by contributing personal objects. Simon mostly uses examples from medium to large museums and cultural institutions; at the end of some sections she emphasizes the applicability of participatory practices at smaller organizations. For instance, even a museum with limited space and a small budget can create a profile badge for visitors to choose an answer, “YES” or “NO,” to an opinion poll – one method Simon emphasizes as effective for participation.

For my interview, I spoke with Heather Cunningham, a curator consulting at Morven Museum and Garden in Princeton, NJ. Heather…

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