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Re: museum (Parks' visits)

On Tue, 12 Aug 1997 07:31:31 -0700 dboaz@juno.com (Debra R Boaz) writes:
>          I love to walk through the gallery and talk to visitors - 
>enlightening them as much as possible. The worst part is teenagers 
>(and adults) who know all about dinosaurs because "it was in the 
>movie", but sometimes you can even win them over - if you give them 
>"the real scoop" as insider information. Who doesn't like to be let in 
>on a "secret"?

Yes, we use this technique with all ages.  "We as a museum get a lot of
news before it hits the papers or gets into kid's books.  Isn't it
exciting to be here and hear the latest?"

>          Yes, the movie tie-ins do bring people into the museum, but 
>I have to agree with Larry to a certain extent - it is not right to 
>display "movie truth" and expect the docents and volunteers to correct 
>it. What does it do to the credibility of the museum or of the docents 
>when they are contradicting each other about an exhibit presented at 
>the museum? It certainly makes more work for the docents and 
>volunteers, as well. 
>          Look at it from a visitor's point of view. They see the 
>spitting dilophosaur or the artificially large stegosaur in a MUSEUM 
>(an institution of SCIENCE and TRUTH) and then the docent says "from 
>skeletal studies, we know stegosaurus was actually only this size" or 
>"there is no evidence that dilophosaurus could spit or that it had 
>poison glands". Your docents are saying that the museum is knowingly 
>presenting "questionable" information - even with the disclaimer that 
>the incorrect characters were "enhancements" for the movie. 

The trouble is that the Dinamation dinosaurs have been out so long that
the models themselves go through revisions as time goes on.  If one gets
"stuck" with the older models, then one has to present the dinosaur as it
is and have a docent correct it.  Our technique is to explain that
scientists and artists may look at dinosaurs differently and have
different interpretations.  They change their minds over time when new
fossils come to light to be examined.  So, even in the relatively short
time Dinamation has been doing dinosaurs, they have changed, or ideas
about the dinosaurs have changed beyond the model we have on display. 
People seem to be OK with this if presented as "that's how science moves
on! Isn't debate exciting!  What do _you_ think about that color pattern
on a dinosaur?"

>           I could agree with a contrast and compare type exhibit, 
>where reality was presented side by side with the movie version, so 
>the public could readily see the difference. A young friend of mine 
>said something a couple of nights ago - "If I SEE it, I'm going to 
>believe it - people can TELL you anything and that doesn't make it 

I'd go further and have a "here's how several different people interpret
these same fossils" exhibit, similar to the wonderful art exhibition that
made the rounds some years ago: "Dinosaurs Past and Present."  If you
could have life sized casts of the "Rogue's gallery" of Dinosaurs, and
have the art work plus Dinamation versions, it would be awesome.  But how
many institutions have the room to run something like this?

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.