How Can Museums Entertain?

Museums are wonderful places. They teach us about the rich history of the world through carefully curated exhibits, perfectly preserved works of art and knowledgeable tour guides. There is so much to learn and absorb while inside of a museum but many, if asked, might not describe the experience as ‘entertaining’. For this reason, museums are taking things to new levels and integrating immersive, hands-on entertainment that guests are able to connect with and still gain information from. It’s much more common now to walk into an art museum and see VR headsets being used or drive by an irregularly shaped pop-up museum whose mission is to teach while you take selfies. Times are changing for this industry but the main goal stays the same: keep it educational.

As long as the educational aspect remains there in some way, entertainment is not to be feared by museums. Let’s take a look at what the real purpose is of museums, how that purpose is evolving, why entertainment inside should be balanced and how adventure attractions can enhance an educational space.

True purpose of museums

Traditionally, museums were meant to educate and only educate. You were to walk around, look at exhibits, ask questions and learn about new topics while not touching anything being preserved. Now, to further engage patrons, museums are blurring the line between entertainment and education and making interactive exhibits a focal point.

This new dual-purpose of museums is beneficial for a range of guests as “entertainment can act as a powerful gateway to education” while in turn “visitors who come seeking entertainment may find themselves learning a lot more than they expected” [1]. Despite what many purists think, museums can be both entertaining and educational as it’s all about finding that sweet spot where those coming in to learn are delighted by the entertainment factor and those solely visiting to be entertained also learn something while they’re there. This can be summarized by the term ‘edutainment’ which means exactly what it implies; entertainment that also possesses an educational aspect. If museums can master that and incorporate new interactive elements for guests of all ages, they’re golden in this new era.  

Balance the entertainment

Ok, so say museums do decide to add in some new edutainment options to their space. How do they avoid losing their true mission and just becoming a mini amusement park? Balance is key. The whole point of edutainment is that it’s a blend of two great things; one is not meant to overpower the other. But the truth is that nowadays “museums must compete with a host of entertainment options that didn’t exist a generation ago” so something has got to give if they want to adapt [2].  

Once more immersive or interactive elements have been integrated, it’s best to not go overboard. You don’t want to try so hard to entertain guests coming in that they are in turn exhausted. Anything added needs to complement the existing offerings. Prime examples include the Sky Trail® aerial attractions installed inside of the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the WonderWorks Orlando museum in Orlando, Florida. Admission for the attractions is included in the general admission price and because both facilities are already based on guests having an interactive experience, no other exhibits are overshadowed.  

Inviting adventure attractions inside

Merging amusement attractions with education may seem strange, but physical activity has been shown to improve not only memory but thinking skills as well. If visitors are encouraged to move their bodies in a healthy manner, there is no stopping what they’ll do much less what their minds will absorb. Activities featured at these educational locations must also make a statement and be visually appealing so that guests’ curiosity leads them to investigate for themselves. Whatever the attraction is, it mustn’t hinder learning but instead allow for it to happen alongside the entertainment.

Not only will Sky Trail® give participants a safe opportunity to ascend to new levels while breaking out of their comfort zone, but the addition of Sky Rail™ will give them a smooth ride they’ll never forget. Adventure attractions courtesy of RCI allow family members of all ages to engage their minds in a new way by testing their navigation skills and bonus: edutainment facilities acquire a new source of revenue.

Check out more science centers or museums who decided to become even more interactive with RCI adventure products here:

Sources:

[1] Museum Hack. (2019, January 20). Museums: Educational or Entertaining? Results from Our First Twitter Poll. Retrieved from https://museumhack.com/our-first-twitter-poll/.

[2]  Stevens, H. (2012, April 19). Museums Want to Entertain You (and That’s Not a Bad Thing). Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/museums-want-to-entertain-you-and-thats-not-a-bad-thing/256042/.

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