2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 253-11
Presentation Time: 4:20 PM


OLENIACZ, Brittney A., Department of Museum Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66044, oleniacz@ku.edu

Museums can be as mysterious as Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. Museum visitors have a variety of misconceptions about what happens behind-the-scenes at natural history museums. What wonders are hidden behind the locked doors with “Authorized Personnel Only” boldly printed on them at eye level? Studies have shown the majority of museum visitors are unaware that museums are anything more than exhibits, although the exhibition sectors of these fortress-like buildings make up only a small fraction of total space of the institution. Similar to how Willy Wonka’s factory produces more than chocolate, museums produce much more than the exhibitions. The everlasting gobstoppers are the undying collections museums possess and the research they support. In addition, a large quantity of museum visitors think that the sole purpose of museum professionals are for exhibition development and education. While the oompa loompas, hidden away from the public, are the researchers and collection managers. There is so much more that occurs out of sight. There are spectacles and rarities as amazing as a chocolate waterfall. There are stories of collections and their collectors worth a golden egg.

How can, we, as educators, researchers, collection managers, and faculty members make the behind-the-scenes museum more accessible to the public? I will review avenues that can be taken to make the behind-the-scenes museum more accessible to the public. From written novels to wide spread use of social media and providing factory-like tours of behind-the-scenes museums. I propose that with a better grasp on the functions and purposes museums have in society will increase interest in science-related fields, among other large beneficial impacts. Ultimately, securing the future of museums as Willy Wonka secured the future of his factory with the golden tickets.