I am a picky museum-goer. It happens when you have a graduate degree in Museum Studies and have spent years analyzing and critiquing exhibition strategies. It doesn’t help that I also used to teach Museum Studies.
My family and friends sometimes get annoyed with me when we visit museums because I point out faults. Too much text. Too little text. Too many objects. Not enough seating. Handwritten labels (always a favorite). Object placement. Exhibit pathways. And, of course, “how is this even considered a museum?”
But, I also have friends and family that ask for my opinion on museums and exhibitions.
Yesterday we went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel. I left saying it was one of the best museums I have ever been to. Tracing Civil Rights from the 17th century is an exhaustive study, but the National Civil Rights Museum did it so beautifully. Just enough content. A great mix of interactive elements. A variety of perspectives. It was powerful and moving. Everything a museum should be.
I can only recall crying a few times in a museum space. Mostly it is when I see a piece of art that I have studied extensively and finally see it in person.
When I walked into the exhibit placed between rooms 306 and 307 I was moved to tears, especially after seeing this quote from Martin Luther King, Sr.: