Museum Interpretation & Visitor Engagement, Pt. 2

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Lauren Gengler reflects on her experience interning at WAM this spring. This post is a continuation of Museum Interpretation & Visitor Engagement, Pt. 1

This semester I have been working on a research project about museums and their visitors. As the visitor engagement and museum interpretation intern I have spent a lot of time reading and observing. Because I am also a gallery guard, I have the unique opportunity to see our interpretation strategies and education practices in play everyday. These observations have helped me to be able to devise new ways to connect our visitors to the art. My goal is to have all of the visitors connect to at least one work, rather than walking quickly through the galleries and leaving. (Which does happen sometimes.)

This internship has been my first real experience with research and it has been kind of a learning process. Gathering and synthesising the information that I am working with has taken a lot more time than I expected. I had initially gathered information that I thought would be helpful, but turned out not to be relevant, and on the flipside of that I had sources I originally dismissed that I had to revisit because I missed things or they became relevant. As I am wrapping up with the research these last couple months I am beginning to work on the final presentation and that is very exciting to me.

These are the topics I will be addressing:

  • What we as a museum are doing/planning to do to engage the visitors.
  • In what ways is this working and in what ways isn’t it?
  • New ideas for how other museums are engaging visitors and using interpretation.
  • Interpretation for upcoming exhibitions next fall

Although the internship and research experience has been different than I expected, I am really enjoying the chance I have been given work more with an environment that I already spend so much time with. As a gallery guard it helps to know not only about the pieces that we have but also how museums as institutions work. And giving the museum this extra attention has made my job more interesting and more fulfilling.

Lauren Gengler is a second year from Wisconsin working on majors in Art and Journalism. She currently works at the WAM as a gallery guard. She spends most of her free time dancing around the kitchen, cooking noodles, eating entire avocados, and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.


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