As an exhibit developer, my museum visits tend to be a little different than those of the average visitor. I look for typos, ogle beautiful artifact mounts and admire the hard work that goes into artifact preservation and conservation. I smile when I see a video component that clearly tells me how long the video is and have been known to do mild dusting of exhibit case tops.
So, yeah, probably not the average visitor.
A couple weekends ago I had the pleasure of showing off Chicago to some family members. This, of course, included a trip to Chicago’s Field Museum. (Now, I should mention, the family wanted to go to the Shedd Aquarium, but the line was TWO HOURS long so we went to the Field instead. Wow. Way to go, Shedd Aquarium.)
Anyhow, a cousin from Jamaica was with us, so we made sure to show her mummies and dinosaurs — two things that are difficult to find at home. Inside Ancient Egypt was packed to the gills with visitors, but despite a few lighting and font/writing issues, that exhibit was holding its ground. It was evident to me that the Museum made the effort to choose materials that would really stand up to the wear and tear of thousands of people pouring through.
And, as a side, I may have frightened some kids when I casually explained to them that the “mummified leg” was actually a child. In their defense, a mummified child does look a bit like a leg, but still…I think they were a bit traumatized by the fact that a kid was in there.
My favorite part of our trip was Evolving Planet, a fabulously curated exhibit chronicling life on Earth. I was especially impressed by the exhibit’s organization, both physically and in content. The labels were clear, I never felt lost in the mammoth (pun intended) gallery, and while I wasn’t able to read everything I learned so much.
But back to the family.
If I could have spent longer at the Museum, I would have. But the family wasn’t as impressed with things like artifact mounts, content management, or the fact that the video labels mentioned how long the film was. So, I kept finding them sitting on a bench, waiting for me and my husband to catch up (thankfully he was really enjoying the exhibit too.)
It’s not that the family didn’t have a good time; they just weren’t as into it as I was. Oh well, at least our cousin got to see mummies and dinosaurs and had a wonderful day.
As for me …I can’t wait to return! In the meantime, I made sure to make a dinosaur at one of the Museum’s Mold-O-Rama machines! It’s now proudly displayed in our Chicago-themed bathroom.