Visitor Profile: Middle aged women
At around 1030am, there were not too many groups of people going through the exhibit. The groups of 2-3 observed, walked through slowly reading captions and watching the videos. They (we) stopped in front of cages to examine if the animals were actually real (they were). The visitors would and they engaged in both the digital and analog interactive exhibits by walking over, pausing, pressing, absorbing the content, and nodding to themselves (internally), before moving on. (From what I remember.)
I was going through the exhibit with Ella, and she noticed that the whole room was pretty noisy. Each station in the exhibit that had a video segment, competed for visitors’ ears throughout the whole exhibit. All videos could essentially be heard. (Having lived in New York too long, I did not notice the intrusion without her mentioning it.)
The exhibit was a ticketed event, limiting not only the number of people, but also in a way, limiting people interested in spending their available time on this particular topic over others during their visit to AMNH.
Visitor Profile: Elementary School Group(s)
The queue area, approximately 5 minutes before showtime, was loaded with elementary school groups (possibly one giant group from the same elementary school). We boarded a giant elevator with them, and they were in general, all a-buzz. Upon walking through the entrance of the theatre and looking up into the dome, the children gazed up in awe (as did non-children) and appeared to experience a sense of euphoria, amidst excited chatter. That quickly changed to a feeling of (quote) “This is creepy,” followed by the bustle of being corralled to their designated seats.
The elevator to the theatre was suited for large groups and with its big glass windows offering a view of the museum, were unto themselves an attraction. As the elevator before us filled up with school children, a Japanese family of 3 jumped out of that elevator, perhaps overwhelmed by the crowd, and got back in line to board the next one.
The best words to describe the American Museum of Natural History are contemporary nostalgia. From the yellow tinted floors and earth tones of original exhibits, to the glass walls and high ceilings of the earth and space area, it invokes everything from actual childhood memories to second hand experiences via pop culture. As long as one is within these walls, time stops and the visitor returns to a simpler time. Everyone becomes a student and a learner.
The building is vast and cavernous, and it seems easy to misplace oneself with or without a map. There is geographic comfort found in the fact that each floor has a similar layout, so navigating can be learned over time. Having visited recently and then again this trip, entering through Earth and Space, a quiet, relaxing entrance area, having to go back through the main entrance where the Roosevelt horse statue beckons the visitor was quite an exasperating and confusing moment. The earth and space entrance made me feel like I was entering a private affair while the main front entrance seemed more like a circus. It was also hard to tell if tickets were actually needed when entering through the earth and space area, as no one was necessarily checking for them, and you can walk right in.
Although this trip I did not get to see many permanent exhibits, I do have to say hat the old classic, The Hall of North American Mammals-in particular the bears – is always a stand-out exhibit. There is something to be said for these dioramas, standing the test of time. The earth-tone theme and the dark lighting, allow these dioramas to appear as highlighted vignettes that tell a familiar, yet different story with each glance.
The AMNH tells many stories, each theme with a different flavor and style. The ocean learning is a completely different experience than earth and space, which is completely different than the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs, etc. No matter how long or how deep one gets into the museum, they are continuously led to a new adventure and are inspired to explore further. The museum creates a desire to want to learn more, and leads visitors to crave more experiences within its walls.