Thursday, 19 July 2012

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Ng Bi Ru (2)

Note: Diary of an NUS Museum Intern is a series of blog posts written by our interns about their experiences during the course of their internships. Besides working hard and fast in their cubicles, our interns have travelled to Bandung and Malacca, organised symposiums, waded through tons of historical research and pitched in during exhibition installations. It was definitely no ordinary internship for them! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!

Ng Bi Ru is a 2nd-year Economics Major from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS. She joined NUS Museum as an Outreach Intern, focusing on in-campus and student life outreach projects. You can read more about her first month at the museum here.

One of my major tasks for the month of June was to create a 45 minutes self-guided itinerary for visitors. This self-guided itinerary is meant to help visitors navigate their way through the museum and provide an overview of the museum and its exhibitions.

I initially envisioned that the itinerary would use tables to organize the contents and directions so it will look neat and systematic. However, as I progressed, this did not seem to be feasible. I began researching about user experience through other msueums’ brochures and activity booklets. Using these materials as references, I learnt that a clear map and proper directional markings are essential for easy navigation. As I began to create the itinerary, I found it challenging to present the exhibition concepts in manner that would be “digest-able” for museum audiences.

After the self-guided itinerary was drafted, three School of the Arts (SOTA) students who had signed up for the museum’s volunteer programme were invited to help test it. The three of them had little knowledge of the museum and this presented a perfect opportunity to test the self-guided itinerary. Using my observations and their feedback about the presentation of the itinerary, I made modification to the self-guided itinerary and arranged for a follow-up session.

For the second trial, the students managed to view the entire museum. I had also edited the self-guided itinerary according to their previous suggestions and reprinted it into a handier A5 booklet. This trial went a little smoother and I think it was because they were already familiar with the museum from the first time. Although the SOTA students found the booklet very useful and clear, I feel that more tests are needed with a wider group of audiences to test the feasibility of the self-guided itinerary.

Besides the self-guided itinerary, I have also been liaising with student groups such as the NUS Cultural Activities Club (CAC) and Office of Student Affairs (OSA) to seek collaboration opportunities. This year, we are fortunate to be working with CAC, OSA and the Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS) Freshmen Orientation Committees to bring freshmen into our museum and increase their awareness of it through their orientation activities.

I have learnt that working with students to organise visits to the museum is more than just getting them to visit. To ensure a smooth visit, enjoyable collaboration experience and an optimum level of learning, it is important for both parties to prepare for the visit. Firstly, the student group has to be aware of the concerns that the museum has and work their plans around it. Secondly, the museum has to play their part in advising and suggesting to them the kind of activities that is feasible within the museum while not restraining them from letting their own ideas flow.

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