Last week I was in Oklahoma. The reason for going was personal, but I visited a couple of museums and since I am no longer able to see through the eyes of an everyday visitor anymore, the line gets fuzzy where work begins and ends. It’s a blessing and a curse.
At one particular museum, I had the privilege of meeting with the head of exhibits. As we walked around all the galleries, he pointed out barriers which had to be installed because visitors were known to climb on the dinosaurs and other animals!
There was even a buffalo in one exhibit which had an obvious barrier, but visitors would climb up the side then trample over the grasses and smaller animals and insects to take photos on or near the buffalo.
To me conduct such as this is mind boggling, especially when it’s the adults encouraging the behavior.
So, in an effort to possibly curtail bad behavior at museums, nature centers, etc., here are some things not to do in an exhibit gallery (or anywhere else for that matter):
- Don’t climb on the exhibits! Just because there’s not a sign telling you not to do something, does not make it OK to do it. Most institutions make it pretty obvious what is touchable and what is not.
- Don’t pick at the graphics! Not all facilities are financially able to replace their graphics or other exhibits routinely. A peeling label or lettering is not an invitation for you or your children to pick at it. My one year old is an expert label peeler. I’m not sure what is so fascinating about peeling something, but he is instantly drawn to those opportunities. I know this, so I proactively watch him and divert his attention elsewhere if there is a peeling opportunity.
- Don’t intentionally try to break an interactive. We have a client in CA who said one of their volunteers witnessed kids hanging on hydraulic flip doors and broke each and every one of them. In this situation, you would have thought the volunteer would have spoken up, but no, he just sat by and watched the damage be done.
I’m sure there are many more stories to be told. What have you witnessed people do in a museum or nature center that you couldn’t believe they did?