CAN THE COMPLEX BE MADE SIMPLE? INFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT CONSERVATION THROUGH MUSEUM EXHIBITS
JERRY C. PODANY, & SUSAN LANSING MAISH
6 SURVEY RESULTS
During the last few weeks of the exhibition, the Education and Academic Affairs department conducted an informal survey of 125 visitors as they left the museum and did 38 in-depth interviews with people as they left the Preserving the Past exhibition. The facilitators also kept a log book in which they noted visitor reactions to the exhibition. The elements that made the most impression (in order of preference) were the video, the vase sherd exercise, the earthquake shake table, the microscope, the vase reconstruction display, the cleaning of the bronze and stone busts, and the vase authenticity case. Other visitors liked the entire exhibition, with no preferences. The time spent at any one station varied depending on individual interest. The longest time a visitor was observed with an individual segment of the exhibition was about 10 minutes spent at the vase sherd table, but some visitors were observed spending more than 20 minutes in the entire exhibition, really taking the time to see, do, and read everything there.
As in any endeavor with a varied audience, some visitors found the exhibition not technical enough and wanted to know more, and others thought it was too technical.
We had intentionally targeted the exhibition for adults because it was the audience we wanted to reach, but some expressed the desire to see the show geared more to children. Small children were very intrigued with the vase sherd exercise and the earthquake shake table. Preteens and teenagers were able to grasp much of the exhibition with curiosity and enthusiasm. Of the 38 visitors interviewed, most were able to discuss at least one of the principles of conservation highlighted in the exhibition with impressive accuracy. All expressed the desire to see more exhibits like this one on all facets of the conservation field.