Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Do You Spend Your Money?


The bus whizzed by, a poster of brilliant colours on its hindside. The poster advertised the Van Gogh exhibition held the Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum, the newest museum in Asia. It boasted the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings displayed in any museum worldwide, a panoply of his world-famous art displayed in one destination. A slick website advertised the exhibit in breathtaking tones.
Furthermore, it would be displayed with cutting-edge technology, a light show projecting the paintings onto museum walls, promising an amazing experience for the viewer.

Except it wasn't.

The experience proved to be a disappointing experience for many viewers. Most viewers were dismayed that the projected paintings fell far short of the slick writeup on the website. The killer was that no actual paintings were displayed; the exhibit was simply blown-up pictures on the walls, paired with monotonous music echoing in the gallery.

In one reviewer's words, "That is pretty much what the entire installation is: a large, empty room with pretty images on the walls and loud music."

One viewer, on the other hand, raved about the pretty pictures and the beautiful installation. She said it was a pleasant experience and an excellent insight. The difference was, she had heard the complaints about the horrible museum from other museum goers.

So if you're a museum owner, what are you to do?

You would eliminate the dramatic website videos and slick advertisements. You would focus on the world-class architecture of the building (which was constructed to rival the MOMA in New York.) You would use words such as "experimental", and "soothing", instead of grand or unprecedented.

In other words, you would manage expectations.

And if you're a museum go-er; you would trust the reviews of fellow museum-goers, and not that of the websites; at least; until the ads matched the reality. If forced to attend, you would read the worst reviews and enjoy the exhibit for what it is.

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