I Spy….

Today at the International Spy Museum we met with Anna Slafer, Director of Exhibitions and Programs. After roaming around the museum for an hour we met to discuss the approaches the museum was looking to take with their display and programs at their new museum site in the coming year. Anna said that her goal for the museum is to provide “delight” and “insight.” Simply put:

Delight + Insight = Powerful Experience

As I look back on my experience in this seminar and reflect on the different museums we visited, I ask myself, what made a museum more interesting/immersive/fascinating than others? There were some museums that I really enjoyed and there were others that were interesting (but I may not go back as I didn’t entirely enjoy the experience).


Museums that I found very enjoyable contained a blending of delight and insight. Now when we say delight, we don’t necessary mean you are comfortable, but it gives you a feeling that enhances the experience of the information you are learning. Β Many of the museums we visited did just that.

The museum I work at is looking at reworking our interpretation and we have been discussing how we are to go about creating a fun and unique experience. I think that answer lies with the equation “delight + insight = power experience.” It is an equation that I have seen successfully work again and again over the last two weeks. I am excited to bring back the tools I have learned in the last two weeks back to my museum! πŸ™‚



How does that make you feel?


Today at the National Zoo we couldn’t help ourselves but be drawn to all the cute animals, both big and small. Yet, as you look around, each habitat and enclosure is different. The walls that have what we would consider exhibition style labels all tell their own unique story. While a zoo is not a museum, we both strive for creating a feeling or a state of mind for our visitors. While the feeling may be directed by the topic of the museum or exhibition, the state of mind you place your visitors in is important.

For example, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the exhibition revolving around the history of the slave trade is purposefully made dark and narrow. You feel uncomfortable and confined. Your emotions are meant to sync with the history you are learning about.

As Tim Wendel explained to us earlier this week, place your reader [in this case audience] in a scene. That scene is the state of mind we want our visitors to either understand upon their entrance or gain following their visit. We strive to tell stories about the items in our museum, whether they are object-based or story-based. By creating a desirable state of mind your audience can gain an even greater understanding and experience of your exhibition and your museum.