momaroving

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Have you ever wondered what type of preparations go into creating a Gallery Conversation? Or have you thought about what works and ideas you would discuss if you were to lead a tour of an art Museum?

Last month, as part of our Roving Gallery Conversation series, museum educators Larissa Bailiff and Paula Stuttman invited visitors to think about these very questions in the Painting and Sculpture galleries. In conversational exchanges with visitors, the educators explained that they were working on putting together a tour that focused on Minimal and Conceptual works and asked for advice on what types of questions or themes they should include. One topic that came up repeatedly was the question of what role the artist played in the creation of the work; both the educators and the visitors agreed that this subject was an important one to cover while dicussing these types of works, since both movements deliberately questioned the notion that the artist’s “hand” must be present in an artwork.

This Roving Conversation offered a specfic way to look at the works in the galleries. What do you think; how might this way of considering artworks as a part of a thematic conversation change the way you experience the art and the museum on a whole?

On your next visit to MoMA, look out for our museum educators in the galleries; through conversations with them and your fellow visitors, your encounters with artworks can take on entirely new dimensions!

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You might have read on our Tumblr about  Roving Gallery Conversations – these have become a weekly program that you can read about here.

As an evaluator, I have been observing these interventions since they began as a pilot program, learning many things in the process.  One of the aspects I’m most interested in, however, is what makes an experience memorable.  Rather than speaking with visitors immediately following the art intervention, I send out an online survey a little later to find out what people thought of the interaction. This lag in time between their participation in a roving and when they complete the surveys also helps us to figure out if the experience was memorable or not. The fact that most visitors can remember details about their experience, including where they were in the museum, suggests that these experiences do indeed stick in visitors’ minds; in fact, 96% of visitors who completed a survey said they considered the experience to be memorable one.

“It was unique and fun. The fact that I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen made it more memorable”

“I still think about the time I spent listening to and speaking with the Roving gallery guide. I have visited a few museums in my 60 years. Docent talks are always lecture style. This was different and interesting”

“Absolutely! Now I can retell my experience of my visit to the museum to my family and friends and not just ‘I visited MoMA and saw paintings/sculptures, etc.”

Descriptive categories  that emerge from visitors’ explanations about their experiences with Roving Gallery Guides include: surprising, unexpected encounters, personal experiences that enhance understanding, interactive and hands-on, encounters that open up eyes and minds to see new things and consider different perspectives, socially engaged, learning experiences, chances to connect with MoMA, opportunities to talk with someone and unique occurrences. Perhaps these are the ingredients for a memorable experience?

Thinking about the experiences visitors are having with Roving Gallery Guides makes me think about my own memorable museum visits. Have you ever had a museum visit that you consider to be memorable? If you have, what made it memorable?