The Experience Economy and Museums

Joseph Pine and James Gilmore in their article Welcome to the Experience Economy have discussed the important Characteristics of Experiences: " Entertainment, Educational Events, Escapist experiences, and Esthetics." These characteristics are all important for the experience economy. Disney has them in spades as does most other amusement parks. However, when apply these characteristics to museums the experiences can become very important especially regarding how they apply to the setting. Fort William in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada does a wonderful job of bringing the 19th century to life for the public. Through re-enactments and through living histories they staff illustrates the time and research that has gone into brining authentic and accurate experiences to the public

The problem with the four E's of Experience is the Educational factor. This is the factor that has sometimes gets overlooked. Not overlooked in that Museums do not provide adequate educational experience, but overlooked in the sense that educational content gets twisted to suit those who donate to the institution and/or to bring in a particular audience. It has always been my experience that Museums were intended to provide accurate educational materials for students, teachers, and the public. However, the opening of the Creation Museum in Kentucky challenges the notion of what Museums are suppose to do. It provides three of the characteristics of the Experience noted by Pine and Gilmore. It provides esthetics, entertainment, and escapism. Its the educational factor that gets overlooked. Here the institution provides no new educational challenges to the viewer. It merely provides to customers verification and sustenance to remain sublime un-questioning beings. It plays to their prejudices and does not challenge people to think about science and is role in the world. This is what happens when museums cater to an audience in such an overt manner. Through the guise of "science" the Creation Museum challenges all aspects of astronomy, biology, etc. The most shocking thing about its astronomy programs is that it endorses the helio-centric universe as detailed by Gallileo who for the last years of his life was put under house arrest by the Catholic Church for his beliefs in a sun center solar system.

This is not a "Museum" in the traditional sense. It only seeks to further long disproved notions of scientific inquiry under the guise of "science." This enlarged view of science would now extend to include Astrology as a "science" along with eugenics, phrenology, and alchemy. It teaches partisans to "not" challenge hypothesis because all can be explained by a higher being. How comforting. Don't worry about these challenges one is merely mortal and cannot obtain a higher level of understanding. Let's just keep all stupid and we will not have these "social problems".

The biggest problem is that this "Museum" does not explain how science can fit together and to work for a better future. The Museum fosters complacency and does not challenge one to expand their learning capabilities. It is unfortunate that the word "museums' can be used for such an institution of propaganda and brainwashing. This Museum should stand as a testament to how prejudice and blindness to facts can lead to fostering a society insufficiently educated. It does not belong in a republic, it belongs in a theocracy.

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