Throughout my years in the museum I have been treated very well. I have enjoyed meeting a wide variety of people – young and old. For the most part, our interactions have been very positive; but every now and then I have a bad experience. I am hoping that the information in this post might be helpful for those of you planning to visit our museum – or any museum for that matter – to ensure a wonderful experience for everyone! So, here goes…
Our hands contain harmful oils that react to the surface of sculpture, furniture, paintings [and telephones!]. Those oils corrode the surfaces of objects and lessen their life expectancy. If we all touched these items, there would be little left for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
There’s been a contested debate about the effects of flashbulbs on artifacts for years now, but the general rule is that museum photography must be done without a flash. Although there’s no hard science to prove that repeated flashes make pigment fade any faster than indoor lighting does, most museum staff will object to the use of it, and other patrons will probably be irked by the distraction. If photos are permitted, rejoice and snap away using only the existing lighting to aid you.
Again, a good rule of thumb is, “When in doubt… ASK!”
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, remember that others may be different. If you opt for the guided tour, don’t hog all of the docent’s time; save questions for later so that others can ask questions, too. If you already know everything there is to know about a subject, perhaps it is better to look around on your own and let the docent do his/her job of teaching others. (They are here because they love what they do. Let them do it!)
Finally, if you are coming as part of a large group, call ahead! This helps ensure that there is an appropriate number of docents on hand to handle your group in addition to other guests that visit at the same time. Likewise, if something comes up and you need to postpone your visit, let the museum know so they aren’t paying docents to be there when they don’t need them. (By the way, do you know what a “docent” is? It’s a cool term for “tour guide”.)
You know your child best. Take the time to walk around the museum with them and then move into the interactive area when they have had enough looking and listening. This will help them to learn the appropriate way to behave in a museum while also enabling you both to share experiences in the interactive room. (Not to mention sparing the other guests – and me! – from unruly behavior often exhibited by tired children.) It’s a win-win! If you don’t get a chance to see all that you want to see, talk to the museum staff. I know that at NHTM the staff often gives guests a return pass so they can come back another day to experience the rest of the museum. (Better yet, become a member and then you can come as often as you want… for FREE!)
Telephone Museum, stop by and see me. I’m on display panel #8D.
Just be sure not to touch me; I am very ticklish!