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Telephone sytems as a museum analogy

I call lots of museums.  I have become fascinated by the telephone systems of different museums, some museum telephone systems are easy to navigate and some are nerve racking and frustrating.

Exhibitions are a form of communication and the culture of the museum offers the “voice” to that communication.  Is the “voice” a friend? A teacher? An older relative?  It is fascinating the different voices that are communicated for exhibitions.  I like thinking in analogies, often I learn more about the culture of a museum from their phone system than I do from their organizational chart.  Is the phone system user friendly?  Easy to navigate? Helpful?  Able to connect me with the information in the way I want to connect?

Think about your own museum phone system and try calling as a teacher wanting to book a school trip.  Try calling as a mother wanting directions, try calling as the vendor who works on the air conditioning, for each call were your needs met?  Could you connect with the appropriate person?

In many ways a phone system is like a museum, callers are contacting the museum for information tailored to them in a welcoming fashion at their own level, a tall order, but try calling American Express and see how you feel or call Fidelity Investments and see how you feel.  Information tailored to the visitor in a pleasant and efficient manner, it can be done!

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at

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