Saturday, January 5, 2013

Not your Grandma's museum.

Admit it! Even as an adult, you hear the word "museum" and there is a lot of internal groaning. The fact is museums are boring build full of too much history and facts that simply take too much effort to process. "How long do I stare at this painting?" "Why is this place so depressing?!" I mean, we're all thinking it. But fear not, my friends! The winds of change are blowing.
In the last decade, a new breed of museums have been popping up across the world! These interactive, historical master pieces are changing the way tourism has approached storytelling for the last century or more. I liken it to Disney's Imagineering, because it starts from the concept design of a building and carries through to day guests pour through those doors. Every facset of the building is meant to enhance a visitor's journey, bring them into that specific time and place. Letting the visitors feel what was happening at that time.
There are 3 major museums that come to my mind when I think about this leap for tourism.

The National Holocaust Museum, Washington D.C.: Everything about this place is meant to transport you back to this terrible time and place. The tour starts on the ground floor where you board an elevator, stuffed to the max. You then watch a film, which sets the scene of Germany leading up to WWII. The doors open on the top most floor and you file out into a narrow hallway which leads you on a journey through the terrors of the Holocaust. You feel like cattle and the whole area is gray and muted in tones. It is truly bone-chilling. No windows. No doors. Trapped, just as the Jews must have felt.
A recreation of "the room of shoes", found in a German Concentration Camp.

Work Will Set You Free
The Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas: Built in the very building from which the assassination took place, the museums goal is to chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history. With both audio and visual counter parts, each visitor may work at their own pace.
From the 6th floor's most right window, the shot was fired.

The Grassy hill just off the parade route!
The National Civil Rights Museum, Birmingham: It begins with a video of post civil war activities, then the screen lifts away and you are able to walk through the lives of a segregated nation. Visit the places they worked or went to school. See the public areas of segregation. Then is transitions into a literal uphill battle as the civil rights movement begins and leaders step to the forefront. The most touching in the videos of the Freedom Riders, after they were mobbed and bombed. It was a little difficult to watch.

And these are only the beginning. Tourism is changing and it's for the better. We are a generation of technology and gadgets. It's important that tourism embraces this if it want to keep the public's attention for long.
Happy Travels!

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