Changing Visitor Expectation at the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation

Creator: Sue Warren

Date: 2010

Introduction: People feel a strong connection to the past through objects. It is the way we express our cultural differences, our religious differences and our aesthetic differences. We inherit objects and we pass them on to our children. In them we imbue our personal history and link it to something much bigger and more enduring than our own lives. While these personal items may be small, there are objects of larger size and significance which are passed on through society or government or institutions; and very often make up the collections of Museums. As custodians of these objects, Museums serve as the medium through which they are preserved and interpreted. It is not surprising, therefore, that Museums must act as arbiters in disputes over aesthetics, significance and relevance. It is the Museum’s interpretation which determines the final state of the object.

The problem with historic objects, for Museums, is that they do not exist purely as an object; but more as a physical representation of the era, society, belief, or event to which they are linked. Whereas the ideal of Conservation is to preserve the materials and the form with minimal intervention; the subjective and the “aesthetic” considerations of preserving and interpreting the objects for the public, are often at odds with this. An archaeological object displayed in an “as found” condition; is much more likely to meet with public acceptance than is an aircraft or a locomotive in a similar condition. Understanding the reasons behind this, and tracing the origins of it; help us to analyze our own priorities and therefore to begin to change not only our expectations, but those of our visiting public.

Reference: Sue Warren 2010, ‘Changing Visitor Expectation at the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation’, Big Stuff 2010

DOI Link:

Warren, Sue. (2010). Changing Visitor Expectation at the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation. Zenodo.
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