Nina Simon, author of The Participatory Museum, advocates for the era of Museum 2.0. An era filled with museums in which the participant shapes the experiences. The days of the drab experiences filled with objects being exhibited in a textbook manner are numbered. An important question arises though. How can museums prepare to be more participatory?
The question is something that every museum must answer for themselves. There are institutional challenges that might arise. For example, a living history museum might have to worry about the safety of visitors while trying to figure out a way to encourage participation. Some museums try to encourage use of other senses such as smell. Other museums might work with a group to create an exhibit by voting on artifacts to display.
Participation in museums can mean many things. It’s up to the museum to define participation. There are four types of participations:
• Contributory– The museum works with all visitors to allow the content to grow.
• Collaborative– The museum focuses on a specific community to create an exhibit.
• Co-Creating-The museum supports a community that follows the museum’s mission statement.
• Hosted– The museum is open to the community to do as they wish within means.
Making a museum more participatory is never an easy task. The staff needs to be dedicated. The museum needs to organize itself in a manner that promotes participation. For some museums, it might mean a massive overhaul. However, it would probably be a move in right direction. That right direction could encourage participation for its visitors.