Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Museum Definition

OK- Here is the latest definition which the committee will present to the board in late September for discussion and approval. We would love input from the Oklahoma museum community to make sure this definition is inclusive and not exclusive! Give us your thoughts.

Museum Definition

A museum as recognized by the Oklahoma Museums Association, may be defined as an organization which uses a professional staff or the equivalent, whether paid or unpaid, that is primarily engaged in the acquisition, care and/or exhibition to the public of objects or interactive displays/exhibits owned or used by the institution. Further, a museum is understood to possess a variety of the following characteristics: 1) is organized on a permanent or regular basis for essentially educational and/or aesthetic purposes; 2) owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate; 3) cares for these objects; and 4) exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis at or in a facility which it owns or operates; 5) provides educational and cultural programming via interactive play. The definition of a museum may include but need not necessarily be limited to both governmental and private museums of anthropology, art, historical societies, historic houses, sites and battlefields, nature centers, living history museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, tribal cultural centers, zoos and botanical gardens.

1 comment:

Susan K. Henley said...

"Museum Definition"

I would like to introduce an idea here that may or may not be appropriate for this definition, but could be a future consideration. As retaining a "facility" and staff gets more expensive and perhaps less funding is going into the coffers I think some museums may become virtual. Collections can still be shown, even in their entirety, with only a virtual address on the www. This method is certainly useful to scholars, media doing an article or needing a photo, and to school kids and other populations living in remote areas with little opportunity to visit a physical faciity. Even though I agree this is a less than satisfactory museum experience it is better than no museum experience.
Also, a virtual experience could include a "real time" tour with a docent and a tour group or just a docent who could interact with the viewer(s) and answer questions, lead them through an educational activity, or refer them to additional resources for more information. If the virtual visitor is not able to arrange a realtime "live tour" then they could "book" a "canned" tour, or else choose other options such as self- navigation through an exhibit by using a virtual camera that could be manipulated by the viewer to pan around to the different components of the exhibit, even zooming in and out, much like mapquest. This would engage the virtual museum visitor in a "personal discovery and learning experience". For home school students there could even be an "assessment" at the end of the "tour" and suggested homework assignments for different age levels, with library or internet resources. If living artists are amenable they could man "Ask-the-Artist" questions (not in real time, but as they can get to them).
If there are no living artists it could be "Ask-the Art Expert".

Cheers! Susan Henley, SEG Geoscience Center
8801 S. Yale
Tulsa, OK 74137-3575