Saturday, April 3, 2010

Testing, Testing One, Two, Three

I have been trying to put into practice my theoretical beliefs on visitor experience in museums. The 20th century museum is dead. Something has to change. Museums need to focus on the experience the visitor has. In the future, successful museums won't be based on artifacts or exhibits. They will be based on experiencing history, or experiencing art, or experiencing culture.

Last week we tested the shipwreck snorkel tour. Dave and Joel were here and the Barnes family from Columbus were visiting off the Carnival Liberty. The ship board printed material about Grand Turk tells cruise passengers that this stop is the best destination for snorkeling. To miss this, is to miss a huge opportunity for visitor engagement.

The shipwreck tour is a new behind the scenes tour that we have been working on. It takes visitors through the the conservation lab where they see several artifacts recovered from around Grand Turk, they get a discussion of the issues surrounding the conservation of underwater artifacts, and we set up a new video of the Endymion shipwreck site, one of the most pristine wrecks in the Caribbean.

This is followed by thirty minutes of snorkeling in the "wrecking yard" where Turks Islanders brought wrecked ships to be salvaged. Within the yard you can see the remnants of the David Morris, a three-masted schooner that was driven up in front of the museum during a hurricane in 1926, as well as a couple other pieces and parts of wrecked ships.

The testing went great. The comments on our evaluation forms were excellent and indicated that the experience of snorkeling in the wrecking yard met the expectations that visitors had after hearing about shipwrecks in the museum.

You know, its not the Harold. But we have a hidden asset in front of the museum and I am truly hoping that this tour will be picked up by one of the cruise excursion companies on Grand Turk.

We will see, new tours are due to Carnival this month, and I hope we don't miss the boat on this one.

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