After visiting Eastern State, I went back and looked at the reading again to think about the type of spot that the site is when thinking about it as a museum. Before having ever been there, I thought it would be a historic site. However, it seemed like more of a museum with the new exhibits that have been worked on and the options for tours that are available.
During the visit, we learned about the different issues that Eastern State has faced while renovating the old prison. The prison seems to have been transformed so that it is a new age museum. It reminded me about how House museums will go through different renovation to show what they once were like. The difference with Eastern State was that they wanted to keep the building in some of the conditions it was in to give off the feel of an old prison. The renovations Eastern State has been apart of seem to deal with the social issues that occurred when the prison was up and running and that are still taking place today. By having people come to what they know of as the “Haunted House thing”, you can help educate the public on issues that are going on in society with the criminal justice system. House museums seem to try to also relate what has happened with their structure to issues today, but Eastern State has the luxury of being able to show so many more people.
Something else I connected to the reading was how the Dennis Sever house was self guided. If a person wanted, they would not have to go on a big tour at Eastern State and could just use the audio sets to guide them. I thought it was interesting since when talking to the guides, it seemed like you could get two totally different experiences depending on which tour you take. It has me interested in doing both just to see what it is like.
Going into this class after reading the piece about participatory museums and then thinking about the directions are going, it seems as though the visitor of the museum now has more say in what they are witnessing more than ever at a museum. Simon talked a lot about things like Youtube and Facebook have revolutionized our world, and that museums are starting to follow in their foot steps. While all museums might not have made the technical advances, it seems that most museums are creating their exhibits to be more responsive for the people who are visiting them. An example that comes to mind immediately is the Philadelphia History Museum that I have been working with. One room is full of people who were interviewed about the city and their videos are on display showing how they responded. There are also countless items that have either been donated by the community, or that the community can relate to, like items from past elections in the city and different sports milestones that have taken place. The staff also provided different historians who would answer any questions that a visitor might have, even if they were not on tour. These were just some of the points that Simon made that can be seen in a local museum.
Levi Fox also seemed to show these different elements when talking about the process he has been going through for the museum. The largest example would be the different items he has been collecting from people. As soon as he walked into class, I recognized the cooler that he had since I’ve seen it in the garage of a friend’s house since her parents used to work at one of the casinos. It goes back to how we have discuss that people are able to connect with objects. While I may have had my negative thoughts when seeing the cooler, other might have memories at staying at the casino and think it is great that such an item was saved.
For some reason, even though it would not have to with Trump in Atlantic City, I kept picturing the museum having some type of computer or screen that would have the different tweets from Trump. The display would have tweets from over the past few years are visitors could go through them, making like a new age type of archive. Besides the museum showing examples of what we read, it was helpful to get tips from Levi. He talked about how collaboration can be a pain and the challenges that come with being a public historian. It was interesting to see someone going through the process at the moment to hopefully display a finished project.