General Question

MindErrantry's avatar

What makes a great museum?

Asked by MindErrantry (821points) November 7th, 2008

Or an exhibit within a museum? What really gets your interest/admiration/etc.? Anything to avoid? Feel free to use specific examples.

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27 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

A great architect and a reliable general contractor.

sorry, couldn’t resist.

Something like the Imaginarium in San Francisco does it for me. But it’s hard to top the scope & awe of the British Museum.

aidje's avatar

The British Museum is amazing.

Knotmyday's avatar

The architecture and scope. All of Chicago’s museums are awesome, esp. Science and Industry. Love San Diego’s Balboa Park spread as well.

bodyhead's avatar

A two headed baby in a jar or a bunch of wax figures.

(things I enjoy)

PupnTaco's avatar

So you’d like the Mütter Museum then.

bodyhead's avatar

Wow, hey thanks. I’ll plan my next vacation around that. You’re the man PupnTaco!

cyndyh's avatar

I think the exhibits should be representative of what people enjoy about the topic. I love the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle because it’s not just about movies. I like that the authors get their due respect. They have items from all genres and eras of sci-fi. They include movie props and costumes, original book covers, time lines, sci-fi from other places (not just American), TV memorabilia, etc. There’s not a lot that the average fan can think of that they don’t have represented there in some way. So, a sense of completeness is key.

And I love when the sound and lighting help set the mood for the exhibit.

Galicia's avatar

The best museums have HUGE dinosaurs or representations of dinosaurs. I LOVE the museums in the District and New York city.

A_Beaverhausen's avatar

size. im really impressed by large scale exhibits.

sdeutsch's avatar

The most important thing to me is that it has places to sit and just take in your surroundings – whether it’s in an art gallery or a hall of dinosaurs, I love being able to sit and soak up the atmosphere, and take my time enjoying the exhibits.

The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh is one of my favorite places on earth – I practically lived at the museum when I was a kid, and even now I sometimes go back just to sit in one of the exhibit halls, thinking and reading and watching the people go by…

Bluefreedom's avatar

Excellent exhibits and presentation, variety in subject matter, the educational benefit from a visit to the museum, a nice rotation of traveling exhibits that visit various museums around the country each year.

augustlan's avatar

Wide aisles, room for contemplation, and extraordinary beauty.

Mtl_zack's avatar

an interesting topic that sprung up in its time, but now its 30 years later and its still poular. i was just at the museum today and there was an andy worhol exhibit. thats a perfect example.

include paintings on the walls and objects in the middle, so that everything is spread out. not just things on the walls, or just things in the middle.

maybe some sort of cool architectural meaning in the building. at the museum here, the stairs are spaced really far apart, so its really awkward to walk up and down. this is meant so that you’ll always remember those steps you took.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Interactive exhibits, multisensory, places to sit, unrestricted flow of people, variety of space.

aidje's avatar

I wanted to go there when I was in Seattle this January, but I have crappy friends. :-( It looked so amazing.

cyndyh's avatar

It’s pretty cool. I went as sort of an afterthought. We were going to the EMP which is in the other side of that same building. I knew I wanted to go to the EMP and knew I would love it and I did. I’ve been back many times. I love the guitar room. I could just sit in their all day.

We went to the Science Fiction Museum because we got a two for one deal that day, and I was surprised that I loved that, too. Next time you get a chance, take the time to do both. They’re very very worth the admission price. If you need to make some new friends. :^>

aidje's avatar

That looked pretty amazing too—and the two of them together…. But I was just the sci-fi obsessed musician. No reason to take my advice on such a matter. ::sigh:: Forget finding new friends—I need to find a way to get my dad out there. He would go.

cyndyh's avatar

Talk him into going in the summer. There are tons of festivals, parades, etc. Memorial Day weekend starts it off with the Folk Life Festival, and Labor Day weekend ends the summer with Bumbershoot. The whole summer is awesome.

kruger_d's avatar

Variety—in collections, exhibitions, spaces, interpretive material, activities. A welcoming lobby and welcoming attitude from staff; visitors treated as guests, not cattle. Giving museum-goers a sense of ownership. Plenty of seating, a few intimate spaces, good lighting, good traffic plans.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

A good permanent collection, paired with great special exhibitions, a fluid and adequately shaped space, amounts of information that aren’t overwhelming, and experiences for all kinds of learners (visual, tactile, etc.).

Some of my favorite places:
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Museum of Modern Art, New York City
St. Louis Art Museum
Science Center, St. Louis
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
FOAM, Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Chocolate Museum, Bruges, Belgium
Museum of Sex, New York City
and any museum of art in Paris

YARNLADY's avatar

My favorite ones have dioramas to represent the exhibits in their natural surroundings. They are similar to the re-creations we see on TV. I do not like the ones that are primarily paintings, drawings or photographs in place of artifacts.

CMaz's avatar

Great stuff makes a great museum. What to avoid? The commissary. I have never come across one with any good food.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ChazMaz I take it you’ve never been to the Cafe at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco.

CMaz's avatar

Do they have good grub?

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mazingerz88's avatar

As much as I am awed by great works of art in painting, seeing enormous, historically groundbreaking flying machines right in front of you is something else. The Air and Space Museum in Dulles, VA….they have the space shuttle Enterprise, an SR71 and the B52 bomber Enola Gay…amongst many.

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