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Practice Makes Perfect

You know the saying. You probably heard it sometime in elementary school from some PE teacher or one of those ‘inspirational’ posters hanging on the hallways, but it’s a statement that has been the theme of the past two weeks at KSHS.

As most research projects go, you have to spend hours combing through everything and anything out there pertaining to your own project, a fun little thing called a literature review. These efforts are not only necessary to my thesis project (standby), but to the research project I will be helping out with at KSHS. The field of visitor studies is new to me, but is incredibly relevant to the diversity of topics museum studies offers.

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So currently, I am still embarking on this journey of creating a literature review as well as prioritizing and organizing my findings and considerations to guide and direct the goals that my supervisor and I will take on when we are on the stage of actually designing and planning our research initiative.

A typical day in my past three weeks at KSHS look like this: starting with one huge piece of literature (normally a book), writing down all interesting citations, authors, or projects, finding actual copies to read with my access to the Marist online library resources (YAY TUITION), and then getting side-tracked because there’s an incredibly relevant and exciting title in the search results and reading that article instead of actual intended reading selection, THEN actually reading the intended article. Repeat. This is not at all new to those who have had the fortunate pleasure of working on a literature review or huge research project.

Luckily, I have started to shift my attention towards a socially acceptable way of organizing my findings and important points to consider into a Google Slides format, which has only been one half day of work, but I am sitting at almost 60 slides already!

Last week, my supervisor and I completed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the special exhibition space. It helps significantly to be physically in the spaces and have a sense of the museum’s identity. Sometimes, there’s a disconnect between administration, who have one idea, and the exhibition and graphic designers who are tasked to do their tasks in a reasonable and cost-effective way. Later this week, I will be going into the permanent main gallery spaces and completing a SWOT analysis.

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First impressions really resonate. As a museum studies student, I do my best to take a step back and put myself in the mindset of a first-time visitor, as well as visitors who may have different needs that the museum may be ‘ignoring’ or unaware of. Considerations extend anywhere from lighting, font legibility, wayfinding tools, in-gallery activities, object protection, and ease with following a narrative.

Visitor studies exists as a hybrid of market research, sociological and psychological methodologies, customer service, and a sense of reality.

Quite honestly, I think it is a perfect lineup of my background. But do I have concerns? Of course. I am not great with numbers/statistics/charts/data analysis, etc. Luckily, I am not alone by any means. My supervisor’s position is new, and she is still adjusting into all of the projects she is handed, rather than attending to the main project she was hired for. She is learning how to balance and cater to every need that KSHS is looking to fulfill, and it’s challenging.

But hey, practice makes perfect, right?

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