Combating Museum Anxiety


As my group with Karen, Marick, and Lance is still working through what additional interactives and information we can showcase in our upcoming exhibit, I though this article about combating museum anxiety is a good place for us to work from. Ashleigh Hibbins, the author of The Scary Museum: Who’s Afraid to Visit You,” wrote on 5 ways to make visitors feel more at ease in the museum. The 5 pieces of advice are the following: stop being the expert and start being the ‘smart friend’; model the behavior you want from your guests in the experience you create; make it passionately personal; start with entertainment as a means to engagement; and find places to bring out-of-museum behavior into the museum.

I thought these were all important when trying to figure out how to make our visitors feel more comfortable, especially as our topic is a pretty uncomfortable topic of conversation. As we have brought up before, this article points out the importance of asking your visitors questions as well as asking them how they feel and what their opinion on the matter is. This article also brings up the importance on finding ways to add new aspects of our daily life to the museum experience, such as with a hashtag or asking visitors to tweet or instagram on the topic or question at hand.

In all, I think this article provides us with some good ways to put our visitors at the forefront of the exhibit, and make sure they feel comfortable and confident, while also being open to the issues, as they learn more about mass incarceration.

One thought on “Combating Museum Anxiety

  1. I love this! This article reminds me of a panel I attended at NCMC about “Museum Inclusion.” The speaker Liani Yirka from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences spoke about some of the different ways her institution tries to reach out to different people, particularly people with disabilities. What stood out to me the most in Liani’s presentation were these statements: “Allow visitors to feel independent/free to see exhibits at their pace” and, as related to this article, “offer a safe space for people to collect themselves.” As Tamara pointed out, we are handling a rough topic that may have some powerful impacts on our visitors. With that in mind, I agree that we need to take all of this into consideration when we create the layout/content of the exhibit.


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