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@ Messages to a coming museum: 3

Style of museum display

In general a museum can offer two display styles for visitors.

Talking style

In the talking style display, visitors appreciate informative exhibitions, in which a museum offers regarding names, dates, locations, functions and so forth, all of which are selected by museum curators and other scientists. Usually visitors will spend too much time in reading such information or become unsatisfied and just disregard them due to a very large number of exhibits.

A strong point of the talking style display is that a museum can offer a lot of scientific information to visitors even if intrusively, while its weak point is that visitors need to take a long time as well as consume their energy for looking at exhibits and reading explanations.

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Listening style

In the listening style display, visitors firstly listen to what exhibits speak or look at what exhibits show without any prior explanations, and secondly, if interested, they read the backgrounds of exhibits from brief but accurate explanations such as what they are, why they were made and how they were produced.

A strong point of the listening style display is that visitors can directly find out attractiveness or secrets of exhibits themselves, while its weak point is that it requires a museum to offer, simultaneously and appropriately, such standard information of exhibits as what they are, when they were made, who produced them and where they were found.

Styles of museum exhibits

In general, a museum can offer two styles of exhibits for visitors.

Classified exhibit style

In the classified exhibit style, exhibits are classified into categories based on standard, traditional in most cases, or scientific theories and displayed in planned exhibition spaces according to the classification (e.g. a clay goddess figurine in a religion corner, a clay script board in a culture corner, a clay pottery in a life corner and so forth).

A strong point of the classified exhibit style is that visitors can quickly and easily understand exhibit functions classified by a museum, while its weak point is that it is rather difficult for visitors to find potential or hidden functions of exhibits, which are not chosen by a museum.

Multiple viewpoints exhibit style

In the multiple viewpoints exhibit style, visitors can appreciate exhibits from several viewpoints (e.g. a coffee cup can reveal information about mineralogy by analyzing its mineral composition, or by depicting a scene in which it is used, it can reveal aesthetics, or by relating its usage in religious rituals it can bring forth information on religion, and so forth). Hence, in the multiple viewpoints exhibit style, the existing exhibition methodology of museology should be abandoned and a completely new, but challenging, exhibition methodology and museology should be introduced.

A strong point of the multiple viewpoints exhibit style is that visitors can find out various, even numerous, value or meaning of exhibits from their own stand points, while its weak point is that some, or actually most, of visitors can find out little information or data of exhibits and may be disappointed at a museum in total.


The attached is a photograph of a coffee cup of Wedgewood.


i31/8/2006j
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