International council of museums

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A museum is a complex institution and defining is not easy, the museum definition different from one to another according to his view about museum and what he like he dislike, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has defined the museum as "nonprofit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits, for the purpose of study, education, and enjoyment, material evidence of man and his environment."

The museums were developed significantly across the world in the past decades, from the term museum which was first used in the Renaissance to refer to private collections (cabinet of curiosity) evolved at the present to the concept of theme park museum. The thrust of the shift is clear, with the development and the expansion of the variety of media that includes installation, video and performance. The idea of art as entertainment was appeared and museum has become place for amusement.

This paper aims to understand the concept of entertainment in museums, how entertainment enhances the role of museum, and how can we use the entertainment as tool for learning.

NB. Many themes and ideas interlink and overlap...


The idea of entertainment in museums has shaped through three stages, pre-modernity, modernity and post modernity. Foucault 1986 describes the museum in the pre-modern period as 'in its most fleeting, transitory, precarious aspect, to time in the mode of the festival'. Foucault gave paradigm example of such spaces , Foucault cities ' the fairgrounds, these marvelous empty sites on the outskirts of cities that teem once or twice a year with stands, displays, heteroclite objects, wrestlers, snake-women, fortune-tellers, and so forth'.

The main characterize of the museums of pre-modern period (eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) was the concentrate on entertainment more than educational output. Murray argued, 'the pre-modern museums were more concern to provoke wonder or create surprise. This entailed a focus on the rare and exceptional, an interest in object s for their singular qualities rather than for their typicality, and encourage principles of display aimed at a sensational rather than a rational and pedagogic effect'. [BENNETT, 'The Birth of Museum', p.2.]

The museums has changed from chaos to the order and system in the modern period, that was happened mainly because all new museums had been established under the Museum or Public Library Acts, in this period the museums have developed in a range of specialist museum types geology, natural history, science, art, etc. also the objects were arranged in a calculated manner to make intelligible a scientific view of the world.

By the end of nineteenth century the concept of amusement park has emerged, amusement park is a combination between exhibition and fairs with affixed site. Thomas Krens defines the art museum in this period as" a theme park with four attractions: good architecture, a good permanent collection, prime and secondary temporary exhibitions, and amenities such as shops and restaurants".


"I don't want to be educated; I want to be drowned in beauty"

Diana Vreeland on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute

The notion of entertainment in museums uses mainly to refer to the pleasure rather than pedagogy. Pontus Hulten, the Centre of Pompidou's first director, said about the entertainment in museums "not about explaining but dreaming, excitement." The entertainment in museums not just the art experience but also it extends to involve the commercial amenities that enhance the museums activities and make it more enjoyable.

The entertainment in museum have fundamental role of attracting people and it gives the museum a new vision of integrate the education with the entertainment to form a new idea the infotainment. A 1990 article in the journal Museum News describes Disneyland:

"Theme parks . . . propose a new vision for education and exhibition, one based not on a literal or historical vision but an archetypes and community consensus history. They speak a new language: multisensory, entertainment-based, three-dimensional, and symbolic".

The commercial amenities are essential part of today museums for many reasons. Firstly, it makes museum more socialize space, secondly, it is very good way of financing and gives more abilities to the museums to develop while reduce the long-standing government support for cultural institutions. Finally, the museums which display their arts in a sense of fun and have many types of activities vary from shopping, eating, performances, etc. have more opportunity to attract more visitor than other museums.


Commercial amenities in museums are not a recent phenomenon, from 1851 retailing had been essential part of the experience in the Great Exhibition and in 1857 the first restaurant was opened. Bennett (1995) said, "in attempting to become accessible to wider audience, museums have to model museum shops on the sales outlets of tourist sites, but, he contends, while this may broaden their customer base it will not, in itself, alter the composition of visitor, since the image of the museum as a middle-class preserve remains essentially unchanged"

Kotler (2004) thought that an observable trend in museums is the increase in attention to sociable, recreational and participatory experiences, redirecting the traditional and singular focus on collections and exhibitions. While audience research shows that, for the majority of visitors, social and recreational experiences have become more important the educational and intellectual ones.

Kotler and Kotler, (2000), today's museum are in a situation where they must reconcile entertainment and education if they are to ensure that people continue to visit the rather, than see them as one-off leisure experience.[public pdf]


The sustainability of museums depend basically on the visitors, how many visitors visit a museum, who are they, and how long they are likely to stay. The studying of museum visitor is a vital issue for the business plan, for the provision of activities and for physical layout. Kolter and Kolter (2000) suggests, museums have also come to recognize the potential which tourists offer, especially in terms of providing revenue to museum and enabling improvements in facilities, services and programs serving to facilities and reinforce the museum going experience for a boarder audience.

Nowadays, it is noticeable that the museums change to have a combination between educational, recreational, commercial facilities to attract people from different categories and has a different interest. People visit museums mainly for three reasons :( 1) social recreational reasons ;( 2) educational reasons ;( 3) reverential reasons. From these reasons recreational and social considerations consistently rank high among reasons for visiting museums. Studies conducted at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the San Francisco Zoo, the Natural History Museum in London, and Virginia science centers, these studies conclude that the visitors were visiting primarily for reasons pertaining to amusement, entertainment, recreation, fun, and social concerns. Among the top five reasons visitor gave for visiting the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village outside Detroit, Michigan, were family fun and togetherness, a safe environment, a good place to bring quests, with the first reason the most highly rated [THE MUSEUM EXPERIENCE].


The interactive display aims to create and operate the effective exhibitions which achieve their educational through hands-on access while encouraging a broader visitor base.

Tim Caulton (1998) "The development of interactive ways of displays has transformed the traditional museum world in the last decades. Thrust into competition for the public's time and money with all branches of the leisure industry, museums must operate with marketing savvy. Visitors are no longer satisfied by simple gazing at worthy displays in glass cases; they expect to have hands on experience of the object and be actively involved with the exhibits as a form of entertainment".

Interactive museum nowadays widely uses in the science museum, for example, Snibbe Interactive Museum in California create social interactive experience for museums that transport visitor into a magical shared reality. Using digital projections and displays on the walls, floors, and tables of museums, people use their bodies and social relationships to explore the world's mysteries together. The interactive exhibit in Snibbe let visitors touch and play with phenomena that are otherwise too small, too large, abstract, or invisible. Topics like animal behavior, nanotechnology, and cellular biology come alive in simulated physical games that inspire the next generation of scientist and creative thinker.


Nowadays, technology has led to make every aspect of our live into a form of entertainment, BBC report 'The Digital Home Entertainment Revolution' estimates the total size of the digital home entertainment market at $129 billion in 2004, rising to $166 billion in 2005 and $411 billion by 2010. This report gives an idea about huge demand on the digital entertainment.

Technology provides the entertainment in museums by many types of technology such as videos, games, simulation ...etc. every type of these technologies play vital role to makes the museum experience more enjoyable.



Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers

1977, 1,000,000 square feet, 183,000 square feet of exhibition space, $ 100 million.

"Museums are no longer places to preserve works that have lost their social, religious, and public functions, but places where artist meet the public and the public becomes creative"

Pontus Hulten, the Pompidou first director

Renzo Piano (Italian Architect) and Richard Rogers (English Architect) were won the 1971 international competition for mixed used cultural center between 681 proposals were submitted. This project was the beginning of their brilliant career. From the early stages of the project Piano and Rogers replace the competition program description from "a cultural centre for Paris" with "a live centre of information and technology" this change of project description by Piano and Rogers to ensure the excitement from the beginning[towards a new museum].

The Georges Pompidou Centre is in many ways a seminal structure, and it has great impact not only in the career of architects Piano and Rogers, but also for the architecture in that time. Piano said about the Pompidou centre design after twenty years "we were young and it was very much an 'in your face' kind of building". He may have almost regretted the overtly industrial look of the building that has tended to obscure its real purpose.

This project intended to create a new kind of public plaza, and a landmark building with very flexible spaces, and it works as a showcase of modern French culture in the spirit of President Pompidou.

"It is my belief that exciting things happen when a variety of overlapping activities designed for all people-the old and the young, the blue and white collar, the local inhabitant and the visitor, different activities for different occasions-meet in a flexible environment, opening up the possibility of interaction outside the confines of institutional limits. When this takes place, deprived areas welcome dynamic places for those who live, work and visit; places where all can participate, rather than less or more beautiful ghettos."

Richard Rogers, 1969

Pompidou centre was a part of a massive renewal project which cause tremendous social and economic upheaval and tend to be highly controversial, because major renewal projects normally dislodging the low income populations.

In 1977, when Pompidou centre was opened for the public as the first large modernist structure to go up within the city's heart, Pompidou appeared aggressively alien to many, and a considerable debate begun over the assertive industrial style of the Pompidou center. However, Piano and Rogers scored positively by build the building in one side and leaving more than half the site opens for a public square on which area's street live could continue. The concept of Piano and Rogers which considered as the greatest center's accomplishment is the lively outdoor plaza, whose animation would be reflected in the moving escalators.

By the brilliant assessment of the engineers Peter Rice and Tom Barker, the design took the real form, six stories high with 48 meter clear span, the structure form a massive transparent cube whose exposed frame of tubular steel columns carries massive trusses spanning the width of the building. Pompidou center exposed its mechanical, electrical, and water supply systems and distinct each system by different colour, elevator in red color; escalator in clear plastic tunnels; giant tubes for air painted blue, water (green), and yellow color for electricity, all are conspicuously placed outside the main columns.

The Pompidou center consist of four levels underground and five levels above ground on the north south axis along the rue du Renard. Pompidou main attraction is the National Center of Modern Art, that is in addition to other facilities such as, an industrial design center, library, IRCAM (Institute de Recherché et de Coordination Acoustiue-Musique), the Cinematheque Francaise auditorium, a restaurant, bar...etc. Pompidou library which it the city's first open-access public library is the most important component of the project for the Parisian.

The exhibition halls in Pompidou center displays painting, photography, sculpture, historical newspaper, stage sets, architectural models, periodicals and videos, this way of display gives the visitors the opportunity to create for themselves an overall background for the art. Also the interactive multimedia approach which used in Pompidou center is an effective means of providing a context often absent in the other museums.

Pompidou center have been criticized in many aspects, but whatever the building problems, the Pompidou center attracted more than 160 million people since its inauguration, and 26,000 daily visitors five times more than intended, this cause most of the facilities to be shut down for renovations, to be reopened again in 1999. Pompidou in fact is third most visited in Paris and enhances significantly to make Paris number one tourist attraction.


Groningen, Netherland

Designers\ Coop Himmelblau, Philippe Starck, Michele de Lucchi, and Alessandro Mendini with Francesco Mendini.

1994, 86,650 square feet, 47,360 square feet of exhibition space, $ 13 million.

Frans Haks, the director of the Groninger Museum was have a daring concept when he received financing to build a new building from the local Dutch gas company, his concept was that the architecture should be very different from that of traditional museums that would make the visitor drop all the preconception about art and allow them to reach new ideas about what they saw. Disneyland was inspired Frans by the idea of the separated pavilions, each pavilion different from the next, plunge the visitor into different experiences.

Frans said about Groninger design concept "the Groninger is not like the Met, where you have to pass through one department to get to another: each of our entrances leads directly to what you want to sea". In the Groninger the designers try to consider every aspect of in the design to make the visitor experience more pleasurable.

Frans went to Alessandro Mendini to realize his concepts, Mendini was interested in making possible interaction between architecture, object and viewer found a kindred spirit in Haks, whose "self museumizing" system require the visitor to "playfully experience" an object and its history instead of passively observing it. Added to this is Mendini's concept of museum not as neutral but as intimate, "a poetic moment in the life of the city".

Rem Koolhaas and Josef Paul Kleihues was in the search committee for a suitable site and they conclude to that it is better to incorporating the museum into new plan for developing the inner city. The committee and the Architect Georgio Grassi collaborated and developed the concept of the artificial island which located in the canal link, this concept act as link between the city center and the railroad station. The distinctive location which it links by bridges between the two sides of canal the Groninger's island has become a gateway to the city through which more than 1.5 million people are expected to pass annually. This insertion of the building into the community's circulation areas to some extent resembles Pompidou center in Paris.

The Groninger design appears as three small islands connect together by bridges. The central island which desined by Alessandro and Francesco Mendini has 200 foot high storage tower as a very distinguished feature with gold plastic clad, also this central island contains the entrance hall, shop, café in the ground floor, auditorium, library, seminars rooms, two galleries at the below level.

The east island where the pavilion of contemporary art and temporary exhibitions is located, this pavilion was designed by Mendini team. Michele de Lucchi's designed the archeology and history pavilion on the west side, local brick and aluminum sheets are the pavilion external material.

Colors' treatments are one of the most interested things in the Groninger's interior spaces, especially the main entrance staircase which it full of colors, while the west stairwell clad in bright blue, green and yellow tiles, and at the east, a curvilinear staircase spirals upward like a large white sculpture within a triple-height, sky blue area where the art displayed.

Every architect has his own character of each Groninger pavilion allows for settings uniquely suited to the display, and Haks and Mendini success to make the architecture relates directly to, and enhances, the art objects and artifacts.


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