Failure. Something we all dread. Not only in our personal lives, but work as well. However, I am here to tell you failure in interpretation is good. No seriously, it is good thing. How does an individual become proficient at task? Repetition. Football and lacrosse players, weightlifters, dancers all practice their craft repeatedly to become better. Just like those athletes we need to be seeking new ways to engage audiences. Two excellent examples of this is Museum Hack and Nina Simon’s work. Museum Hack purposely seeks to engage people who do NOT like museums. They work to get those individuals to buy into their tour through audience centered interaction plus relatable themes for their two hour tours. Awesome how they are able to get great results from people who previously cared very little about museums.
Then again with tour names such as “Bada** B*tches of the Met” you are going to garner more attention. Their sharing of experiences on social media (Facebook, Instagram) to create a personal advertising for their tours to the friends of people already in the museum. Even better for museums is people can see pictures of individuals having fun in museum. A feeling not always associated with these “ivory tower” institutions. THOSE pictures are worth more than a thousand words to me. Nina Simon focuses her work on bringing the community into a museum and providing relevance to the people surrounding your institution. Her most recent book The Art of Relevance is an excellent read for anyone in the field of interpretation. Better yet, she is the speaker for NAI’s book club of the month on September 23rd. Contact Emily Jacobs to see if you can join the group.
These groups are celebrated for successes, but that does not mean there are no failures. In a webinar with Museum Hack, Dustin remarked how they are trying out new tours or new ways to engage audiences on their current trips. Not all of them work out, but it is ok. “There is no failure, only feedback” he said. If no one laughs at your new joke or pun then cut it out. Visitors are not interested in your talk on anatomy of dinosaurs of the Black Belt? Time to scrap it and move on. Experimenting in themes, talks and ways of engagement are great ways for you to grow as an interpreter along with making the field of interpretation better through trial and error. So do not be afraid of starting a institutional Instagram account or advertising an nontraditional tour idea. The audience response will provide the feedback you need to decide if you are on the right path or not. Just remember, no failure, only feedback.