The latest issue of ‘Frá haug ok heiðni’/ Fra haug ok heidni is out – and we’re in it! Published by the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Stavanger in Norway, this popular journal features lots of new findings, ongoing field investigations, and research in the archaeology field.
We are thrilled to be featured in Ellen Hagen’s article, “Museum tours for people who do not like museums.” Download the original article in Norwegian or read on for the English translation.
Museums in cities are no longer the only a place where only artifacts are gathered. Museums are, as much as other public places, a social place where people meet. The focus is on interaction and interactivity without putting the artefacts on the sideline. Many people visit museums because they have an interest in ‘everything’, for something specific, or for a place for spending time with family or with friends. In other words, there is a latent motivation to visit a museum. At the same time, there are many who think that museums are boring and for that reason they avoid them. This is where Museum Hack focuses their outreach, on audiences who have given up museums or are about to. Musems are fu**king awesome! has been pronounced by Nick Gray, founder and director of the company Museum Hack, which was established in New York in 2013. Nick Grey got the idea for Museum Hack after a ‘museum date’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where a friend showed him the artefacts she found interesting. At the same time, she avoided the classical and popular tourist icons. Curiosity took over and Nick brought his IPad and started to gather information about less known museum artifacts and invited in the beginning some of his friends to join him on an unformal and social tour. The concept quickly evolved and a 1000 people had signed up on this ‘new’ museum tour. Since that the company has grown, in 2015 Museum Hack had 35 guides and employees, where 10 people worked full time. They also have a museum experience guarantee, so if you are not 100% happy with your experience, you get your money back.
The overall theme is to make the tours fun and engaging, and help overcome Museum Fatigue – a real problem, where visitors get tired and bored when they visit a museum.
– Museum Hack
This is museum guiding on a VIP level, the groups are comfortably small, and the price ranges between 49-89$ per person. This is an experience, not a regular guided Sunday museum tour. Additional offers exist like bachelorette parties for women – Bachelorette Party – with wine visits in the museum cafes, teambuilding for companies, inspiration seminars in and outside of USA, and Little Hackers for children’s families and other specially designed offers for museums. Their goal is straightforward: have fun! Their focus is on unknown stories around artifacts, artists and museums. This include many different activities, like selfies with art is a definite must. You are simply allowed to have a fun day at the museum.
However, this means someone has to lay the fundament for this and activise the museum. Museology Kerstin Smeds writes about a cultural heritage paradox in her article Vad är museology? (What is museology?) The purpose of the artifact is to be preserved for the future, but at the same time the meaning of it ‘dies’ as we end up staring at it in a glass cabinet. The displayed artifact is musealized and is torn from its real context, therefore it loses its original purpose for being on display, and the contact with the human life is once was part of is gone. How does this create motivation?
By integrating an artifact into our everyday settings through untraditional, but with popular tours such as BADASS BITCHES OF THE MET Museum Hack is possibly onto something. They have managed to hack into the audience code and the virus is museum fever for both New Yorkers and for tourists visiting The Big Apple.
On a trip to New York last autumn, a visit to the American Museum of Natural History was on the top list of museums we wanted to visit. This is a large museum, a curiosity in it self just to visit, but time-consuming to cover. This is a museum to revisit many times, so how does one experience joy without getting lost or tired? Sign up for a Museum Hack trip of course!
Together with a librarian from the University of Stavanger, the article writer went on a Dino Tour trip with Dustin Growick, Director of Dinosaur Studies at Museum Hack. Growick, who is also know as @thedinosaurwhisperer on Instagram, was our guide. After following his enthusiasm and outreach methods in his mini-series The Dinosaur Show on Youtube, we were quickly captured by his passion. Here we were, four adults with different background for museums, ready to experience AMNH in, actually, a two hour program. Dustin had his iPad and other small ‘fun stuff’, like chocolates and mini-dinosaurs, everything perfectly designed for use in a special activity.
We went from being speechless over the museum, to shocked by the facts of the otters sexual behavior when stopping at the natural history section, to then hear about the ‘theft of the time’ of the world’s largest Safire, ‘Star of India’. Not to mention how super serious everyone took the assignment of taking a selfie with your chosen dinosaur, which included learning one sentence about that species that then was shared in the group.
This was new, it was humorous, an unformal learning experience because it was fun at the same time that it felt natural; like gathering for a social evening arrangement with friends. To let the audience get captured in the spirit of museum experienced is an outreach expertise, and finding the stories worth sharing, that is museum hacking on a high level.
Special thanks to Ellen Hagen for granting us permission to republish her article. We are thrilled to have hosted you on our Museum Hack Tour of the Museum of Natural History, and hope to see you again soon!
Are you with the media? Want free access to Museum Hack tours and events? Join our Media Club to learn about upcoming events.