Museum Layouts

One thing I find of interest is how museums decide to set up their exhibits. A lot of museums will try to make their exhibits stand out from the rest. With Egyptian exhibits this is extremely important because there are so many. Museums have to struggle to find out how to make themselves different from all the others to gain more tourists. For some museums it is made easier by having very significant artifacts. The Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany, has the bust of Queen Nefertiti. In cases like this, museums only really need to make sure that their focal point is their main artifacts. This does not mean that the museums with major artifacts have not thought out their designs. I went to the British Museum, and while they do place their main artifacts in the forefront of everything else, the rest of their Egyptian exhibit is very well thought out and placed just so. It is even more amazing when you think about all the things they have that they have not put out. On my study abroad we got to go behind the scenes of parts of the British Museum. We got to take a look at many of sarcophagi that were very beautiful and intricate but that just did not at the moment fit into the exhibit. Several years ago I went to one museum once that had a very interesting a fresh set up to its Egyptian exhibit. In Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Museum of natural history their exhibit was set up like a tomb. The room had very low lighting, and very narrow walk ways. There were many twist and sharp turns that you weren’t always sure about where they were leading you. It was a very cool way to show their many artifacts. However, it made me think about if they had something like that in a bigger more popular museum, like the British Museum. The British Museum is already crowded as it is, sometimes it’s hard to move at your own pace because of people in front or behind you. A claustrophobic tomb like exhibit would be horrible in a place like that. But for the Carnegie museum it just worked.

2 thoughts on “Museum Layouts

  1. I too have been fascinated by museums, especially the evolution of museum displays. Historically museums have ton through different key phases of display practices. Initially, museums would display items wherever there was space. This led to extremely unorganized exhibits and rooms that were filled with taxidermy, fossils, arms, and artifacts from all three ages. Eventually, curators started to organize rooms by culture and/or time period. This helped foster learning immensely, and led to the age of museums as cultural learning centers.

    Today museums are evolving in numerous ways. First, they are starting to organize dioramas of artifacts, especially ecological zones, and cultural regions. This helps focus viewers on one important time period, region, and culture, and lead to a greater understanding of that focus. Second, they are creating cultural commons laws. These are enacted to be more engaging with the cultures from which the artifacts have come from, and the public that views them. They are meant to address the question “What can a public museum do for the community it services?” Finally, museums are moving towards greater participation, and multi-media displays. Much like children’s museums, today’s natural history and natural science museums are including videos, soundtracks, hands-on displays, and other exhibits to create an interaction as well as a learning experience.

    While this change has been slow, areas like New York City and Boston, have already begun to change over many of their displays, including a revolutionized exhibit of Egyptian Archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Here, they have laid out numerous rooms of a tomb/necropolis, and have numerous reproduction areas where you can feel hieroglyphics, pottery, and even a replica of the rosetta stone itself.

    There are still numerous questions museums are struggling to answer, the most important being the true ownership of its goods, however it is great to see such an acute focus on cultural learning, and what that might translate to in the educated public moving forward.

  2. It’s really cool that you decided to do your blog on the arrangement of the museum exhibits because I have never really put any thought into how they place things in the museum. It was also nice to find out that museum put this much effort into placement and advertising to gain tourist. This fact also brought to my attention that many museums have always put importance on the main exhibit. They also hold privet showings and even have special exhibits for a short period of time for the public to see. However it was nice to hear that you were allowed to go behind the scenes and view the artifacts they didn’t have room for on the floor. I always thought that the things behind the scenes were not allowed to be on display and were for research only. I also find it interesting that these museums put on show with some of their exhibits, like a movie or play or even a presentation. I find that when they do these things people learn more about the exhibit and want to come back and suggest other people to visit the museum. The whole idea of them designing the exhibit like a tomb was creative.

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