‘Indian museums should go for visitor studies’

Kolkata, July 31 (IANS) Indian museums should go for visitor studies to evaluate visitor satisfaction and overall experience which could help them design better exhibits in the future, said experts associated with US’s Smithsonian Institution.

“The trend currently is that of following audiences. Study them and seeing how do they interact with the exhibitsa looking at each age group and carrying out impact surveys. Indian museums need to start doing that,” said Karen Lee, numismatic curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

She was discussing the significance of “Indian and American Museums in a Global Context” at the Victoria Memorial Hall here along with senior museum studies expert Gretchen Jennings, formerly associated with the Smithsonian.

Drawing from their vast experiences globally and also while teaching exhibition evaluation for the National Council of Science Museums in Kolkata, Jennings and Lee both advocated visitor studies for enhanced experience as well as for funding proposals.

“In the US, the culture of visitor studies is very well developed and well-accepted but it is not so in India. It is definitely a growth area in India.A You have to include visitor studies in your evaluation plans so that you can defend why you need funds and for what. It will help museums to back their requests for funds,” Jennings said.

Lauding the “Remember Bhopal” Museum which captures the horrors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy by the belongings and pictures of victims of the tragedy, in which thousands had lost their lives after inhaling toxic gases leaked from Union Carbide plant, Jennings said concepts like these could add to the collective history of a country.

The museum was thrown open to public on December 2, 2014 on the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

“It is an important step in Indian museum history,” she added.

Lee also suggested opening up museums to discuss conflicts.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities and is administered by the United States government.


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