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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:39 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 1985
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Maybe I didn't make my experience clear. This wasn't a tour. I was just walking around looking at stuff, then I get a lecture on something I'd just told the guy I'd personally used.
Perhaps I should have been more clear on it, but the responses are valid anyway.
I grew up doing living history events and displays, and the first thing I learned early on was to ask if someone had questions, and to keep my trap shut if they didn't as there was no reason to think everyone lookin at the displays had no clue what they were (or that they didn't want to listen to someone talking about them)...

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Lee Bishop


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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:10 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:21 pm
Posts: 353
Location: Danbury, CT
Oh. Gotcha. So, just shut up until someone asks you a question. Why didn’t ya just say so? (Sarcastic Humor Alert)

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Randy Patterson
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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:55 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 1985
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Mount Royal wrote:
Oh. Gotcha. So, just shut up until someone asks you a question. Why didn’t ya just say so? (Sarcastic Humor Alert)

As opposed to going on and on about an item to a visitor who just told you a millisecond ago he's actually used the item in the past and doesn't need the 'idiots guide' version of what it is?
That was my point about knowing your audience. Guides/docents/straphangers should know when to give the "This is called 'a train'" speech and when not to.
People rarely go through the doors of a museum with no idea what's there. Has anyone seen someone walk into the exhibit hall of a museum, look around and yell, "Hey, this isn't Wal-Mart!" If they're there, they probably have some kind of inkling what the stuff is.

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Lee Bishop


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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:30 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:21 pm
Posts: 353
Location: Danbury, CT
Yeah. I get it.

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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:45 am
Posts: 72
I know that in many cases, docents are volunteers, and you have to understand that everyone is different, but in cases where you pay for a tour, and it is painfully clear that the docent doesn't know a thing about what they are talking about, is where I loose my patience. Some time ago.....(wow time fly's.....it was over 20 years now!), my dad and I were on a tour of the Durango & Silverton yard and shop. The guide knew nothing. She said that the cupola on a caboose was the trainmen's break room. This is a population where most of the visitors had a fairly good background on what they were looking at, so at various times, we would chime in politely to inform the others on the tour what they were actually looking at. I was careful not to be rude to the tour guide, perhaps she was pulled out of the gift shop and told, "Stacy, you take the tour." I more blamed the D&S for charging for a tour and not having a properly prepared guide.

I would like to think most folks who know what they are looking at, will do as P51 did, and be polite and just move on. At least he wasn't telling someone wrong information.


Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:20 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2528
p51 wrote:
Mount Royal wrote:
Has anyone seen someone walk into the exhibit hall of a museum, look around and yell, "Hey, this isn't Wal-Mart!"


I’ve come close... We had some kind of large tour group ride the Mt Rainier Scenic, might have been an NRHS trip, can’t recall. We told them that one of the highlights was the tour of the Mineral Shops. (This was prior to switching destinations and the new museum).

We arrive and a confused lady says “where are the shops?” I replied that the locomotive shop was that large building right over there and the other building were engine houses. “But what about the shops?” A bit more of this and she finally made it clear she was expecting a shopping center not a machine shop...


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 Post subject: Re: Docents; listen to your audience!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:46 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 159
The best museum docents I've ever encountered are those at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. I'm not sure about their training, but they are really top notch presenters that are given a wide range of topics to discuss in their presentations.

I'm a member (even though I live 10 hours away) and on my many visits I always learn new facts because the docents listen to you and customize the presentation for each audience. Once when visiting the Edison Laboratory, a guest asked about the light bulbs hanging in the laboratory and the docent went on about 5 minutes talking about how each of them are hand blown by a man in Michigan who creates the closest recreation of the bulbs that would have been used in Menlo Park. Obviously that fact is not in the regular presentations, but when asked, the docent was extremely knowledgable.

The most negative experience I've had was the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry where a young tour guide spoke to me and 2 other adults (the entire group on the "tour" of the Zephyr Train) as if we were a class of 1st graders and even asked us why we thought the train was "soooooo shiny" - the Zephyr set was one of the reason I wanted to visit the museum, but that guide specifically made me less likely to recommend a visit there. And that leads me to a huge point that EVERYONE in management needs to be aware of. The quality of tour guides leaves a HUGE impact on your guests. I am 10 times more likely to recommend Henry Ford over Museum of Science and Industry because of the quality of the full experience which has a big part in the quality of the guides. I doubt Henry Ford pays their guides any more money, it's about the quality of training and being certain you select the right employees to hire.


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