A Talk about Museum Audience with Sonnet Takahisa

Sonnet Takahisa, Deputy Director for Engagement and Innovation at the Newark Museum, talked with me today about the museum’s audience and her position as an advocate for audience engagement. The museum has a lot of programs for their audience- Public Programs , Family Programs, School Programs, Youth Programs, Summer Camp. The museum also hosts multi-generational family days on special topics. The Newark Museum is the only licensed institution in New Jersey to host Maker’s Fairs. A Maker’s Fair is an event where people practice their art in the museum. This reinforces the opportunity to do-it-yourself. STEM is infused with arts, creativity, craft and design.

The museum is free and it is the largest museum in New Jersey. it has a large collection of American Art, Nepalese Art, African Art, Asian Art, and a Historic House. They have old footage of the Dalai Lama visiting the Newark Museum which is also really cool!She states, it is an “unsung, underutilized resource.”

When I asked her if she has an agenda for the concepts she wanted the visitor to experience, she said she wouldn’t use to word agenda but that she uses a major philosophical approach to make the visitor feel comfortable, constantly discover, revisit old friends(pieces in the permanent collection). Her other philosophies relate to experiencing different time periods, different cultures and different people.

When I asked how she does marketing she stated that she works closely with the marketing department and that they are redesigning the website currently, and that to market, she goes out to other events and offers resources. Since she is in a new position, she is still getting to know who the museum’s visitors are.

To fulfill their mission the museum is also playing around with media, recently installing a video game in the Science exhibit. The museum is looking to completely overhaul it’s media plan which is really exciting.

When I asked her if visits are socially driven, she said yes. People come with families, friends, spouses.

Takahisa wants people to make great memories of their time in the galleries, with a specific objective:  to feel welcomed and come back again and again.

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3 Responses to A Talk about Museum Audience with Sonnet Takahisa

  1. Hey Sarah,
    I really liked the mention of STEM and how the Newark Museum was integrating that into their visitor experience. I will definitely have to take a look at their Maker’s Fair. Do you find that way of learning beneficial for the visitors, and if so what visitors in particular? It also looks like they are turning to many different medias to connect with their audience. How are they using the Science video game? You covered a lot in one interview. Great read!

  2. emilykp47 says:

    This sounds like a really interesting museum. I’m interested to learn more about how Takahisa is working to bring more diverse audiences to the museum. It sounds like there’s something there for everyone to enjoy, but they have to communicate that to potential audiences.

  3. maolsen13 says:

    This was really great Sarah! When you were speaking with Sonnet at the Newark Museum did she mention how else they are using media? Do they use Twitter, Facebook, etc.? What are their experiences with these resources? As a large, free, museum it would be interesting to hear more about what does and doesn’t work.

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