Museums are communication

Mark Walhimer Exhibition Design, Museum Planning 2 Comments

Museums are communication.

As I am writing this blog post,  I am watching a blinking LED.  I have always been interested in electronics, computer programming and Art.  As a kid I took computer programming then on a punch card, took Art classes and worked in the basement on electronic projects.  In the past I have toyed with Basic Stamps, now I am starting to learn about Arduino and learning Arduino code.  All just for fun.

As I stare into the blinking LED I am empowered and encouraged, I want to learn more, I want to “do”.  This is the kernel at the center of all museums, the sense of wonder and the pursuit of knowledge.  I learned how to program the Arduino and make the LED turn on and off, I now own that knowledge it is mine forever.   As I watch the blinking LED, here sits an important lesson, the ownership of knowledge and the transfer from provider to user.  It doesn’t matter the topic or discipline, Art, Science or History, it is the same communicating with the public and ownership of knowledge.  I talk about constructivist learning and that blinking LED is a great reminder.   Theoretically I understood how to make the LED blink, but not until I deconstructed how I thought it worked and relearned how to make it work did I own the knowledge.  It is mine and can’t be taken away.  That transfer is a delicate dance between content provider and receiver of information.  In this case I learned in my own way, trying different approaches, reading, making changes.

Museums are an informal form of communication and the relationship between museum and visitor is tantamount, in the relationship, Museum to visitor, Museum (as Peer) to visitor, visitor to visitor, museum to other museums, creating a matrix of communicators.

Work benches are gone.  Most kids don’t grow up with a work bench in the basement any longer, museums are the new “workbench”, luckily a communal workbench for sharing ideas and communicating.

None of the rest really matters, technique for communication, place of communication, the voice does matter, the rest is just icing.

Thanks for listening, now I need to get back to the Arduino and see if I can make a button turn the LED on and off.

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