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Checkliste ins Museum und evaluiert Ausstellungen

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Checkliste ins Museum und evaluiert Ausstellungen

Gaynor Kavanagh: Visiting and evaluating museums

A constructively critical approach to looking at museums must depend upon a rang of questions. Visiting and evaluating museums is an effective and indispensable mean of learning about them. The following 'checklist' has been developed at the Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, and is used by postgraduate student on their museum visits.

A visit to a museum should enable you to compare theory and practice. It should be an occasion when you focus your understanding of museums and construct a critical appraisal of what you are seeing. Throughout your visit, a whole range of questions should be running through your mind and you should actively seek answers. Here are some questions to begin with. As time goes on, add your own or develop your own system.


Where is the museum? Is it easy to find? Are there sign posts? Are there car/coach parking facilities?

Are there other attractions/facilities in the area?

What is the immediate vicinity of the museum like? What implications does it have for the museum and its work?


What tells you that this is a museum? Would you know from the outside what was going on inside?

How old is the building? Why does it look the way it does? What impression does the exterior give you? Is it 'purpose built'? Or is it an adapted building, e.g. a former mill or ice‑rink ?

Is it a suitable building for a museum? What are its strengths and weaknesses? How easy would it be to burgle or burn down?


How Welcoming/inviting is the entrance? Can you find the entrance?

Are there restrictions on access? How would you gain access in a wheelchair? How would you get in with a double buggy?

Do you feel welcome? Has anyone noticed you? Do they want money?

How are admission charges announced and collected?

What are the staff wearing? What is their attitude? Would it be the same if you were different in some way: a mum with three toddlers; a different skin color, without English as a first language; or fifteen years old with a gang of friends?

Are there security checks? Why? What do you do with your bag, coat, umbrella?

Where are the loos, first aid points, changing room facilities for parents with babies, museum‑provided wheelchairs, pushchairs and carry packs? Can you sit anywhere in the reception area, for example, to wait for friends?

Where are the museum shop, museum cafe (or coffee pot if a very small museum)? Are there maps or signposts? Is there an introduction to the museum telling you what's on offer, where to go?

Are the facilities and information positioned in such a way as to help your visit, encourage casual, but regular use? Do they set you off in a good frame of mind? How would you rate their standards?

How does this museum make money? Does it care?


Who is the director? What is his/her background or specialist interests? How does he/she perceive the role of director and the role of the museum?

How many people work here? How are their jobs defined? Whar is the staff structure? How does this relate to the aims and purposes of the museum? Has it changed? Is it about to change? Are there obvious gaps in expertise?

What is the atmosphere like? Do the staff display a positive attitude towards the museum and its services? Do the staff speak freely and with enthusiasm? Where does the museum get its energy and ideas from? Does it have energy and ideas? If not, why not?

What is the museum's attitude towards training and professional development? Does the museum ever hold its own staff training sessions, study visits to other museums or staff discussions on the aim and purpose of their work?

Has the museum got a plan, a system of evaluating where it's going and where it's been? How does it know whether it is succeeding or failing?

Is this museum registered? What does that mean?

Has it got a corporate plan, a business plan, an action plan, a policy towards training and development . . . anything lucid/useful?


How is this museum constituted? How is it governed? Who are its trustees/councillors? What implications does the constitutional form and governance of this museum have for the sort of museum it is, or could become?

What is happening at the moment in their specific sector of the political economy charities, national bodies, local authorities, etc.? What effect is this having?


What does this museum collect? Why does it collect? When did collecting begin? How do they decide what to collect? How meaningful/relevant is their collecting policy? How even and useful a span of collections does this museum hold? Do they know what to collect next?

Is there evidence of inspiration, innovation and awareness in their collecting? How do you rate their collections?

Do the staff conduct research, enquiries or fieldwork? If not, why not? How do they update their academic and professional skills?

How are the collections housed and organized? How much of the collection is catalogued? If there is a shortfall, why has this occurred and what are they going to do about it?

What documentation system do they use? What are its merits and flaws? Do they use computers? What is the backlog of records not on computer?

What are the storage facilities like? Do they adequately provide for the security of the collections? How do storage facilities relate to the galleries and to conservation? What are the handling procedures?

How does the museum provide for the environmental needs of its collection? Are there conservation facilities? What are the museum's policies on conservation?

What provision is there for visiting researchers? Is there a library? Is it any good?


What impressions do the public areas of the museum give you? Is there evidence that the museum cares about its visitors? Does it think about the intellectual, educational, physical and social needs of visitors?

How difficult would it be to evacuate the museum if there was a major emergency?

Is the museum 'policed', 'attended', 'wardened' or monitored by gallery 'enablers'? What would they do in the event of fire or theft? Can they answer your questions about the collections and displays?


What are this museum's main displays and exhibitions? Why have they chosen these themes? Does the content of the exhibition match the claim of its title?

What are the messages of these exhibitions? Are they intentional or unintentional?

What is included and what is excluded? Does the interpretation seem fair and balanced?

Have you seen it all before or is this a fresh approach?

How helpful are the labels? For whom are they written? Do they answer your questions? Do they help you look at the material on show? How big/long are they? Are they well written? Is the writer speaking to you or to him/herself? Do you need special lenses to read the text? Are there extra interpretative aids, such as audio‑visual areas, audioguides, published handbooks, etc.?

How old are the displays? How secure are they? Could you burgle a case here?

What provision is made for the control of light, heat and humidity in the gallery areas. Is it enough? What special care do these objects need? Are they getting it?

Are there facilities for temporary exhibitions? Is there a temporary exhibitions program? How is it devised?

Does the display and exhibition work of the museum cater for different sections of its audience? How would you enjoy the exhibitions if you were six years old, deaf and in your eighties, or accompanied by your sixteen‑year‑old twin brothers?

How does this museum know that its displays and exhibitions work? Has it carried out any form of evaluation? Does it rest its case on the number of people who visit it? Can it be sure that this number wouldn't double if the exhibitions and displays were different ?

Who comes to this museum? Why? Who doesn't come to this museum? Why?


Is there an education service? Is this made clear to you at the entrance or in the galleries? What roles do the education staff play in this museum? To what extent is the museum aware of the National Curriculum? What kind of response has it made?

What do they provide for pre‑school children, primary school groups and secondary schoolchildren? Does the museum have a museum club or activities for children outside school hours? Is provision made for adult education? What form does it take? Is this museum working with the elderly, outlying communities or local groups?

Is there a loans service? Who uses it? Is there an education room? Is it well equipped? Is there a proper lecture theatre? How often is it in use?

How does this museum liaise with teachers and local education advisors? Does it provide any training for teachers? Does it have any links with local work experience schemes or local teacher training courses?

How is education provision monitored and evaluated?


Does the museum encourage enquiries? How many does it get in a week? Can it cope with them?

What does it publish? Does it have postcards of objects in the collection?

Is this a comfortable place to be? Can you take your time, choose what you want to see, and have a good sit down when you need to? Are there enough loos around? Can you interrupt your visit for a cup of tea?

Do you want to be here? Would you return? Would you bring a friend? Would You bring someone who never goes to museums?


What can be learned from this museum?

What are its merits?

What are its flaws?

Aus: Gaynor Kavanagh: Visiting and evaluating museums. London 1994

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