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Overcoming Museum fatigue with Detour Guides

Museum fatigue is the term for when museum guests get overwhelmed with information and are no longer able to take in facts. It is a struggle that many museums will be familiar with, especially when it comes to tours. One way of combating this is to make tours interactive and fun to help keep visitors engaged.

At a recent MuseumNext virtual conference, the team from The Nieuwe Institute in Rotterdam shared how they have completely reimagined museum tours with Detour Guides. Instead of asking tour guides to memorise a script, they hire creatives to create a truly unique experience. Some examples of past Detour Guides include a guided tour of the museum’s toilets or making protest signs to discuss art’s role in social change.

Reimagining Museum Tours

When the Nieuwe Institute were reimagining their tours, they asked themselves what if creatives like artists and designers could share their perspectives on art with museum visitors? What if the traditional museum tours were deconstructed and creatives were given the flexibility to present the information in a way of their choosing. The museum gives these creatives the information they need and allows them flexibility to create a unique experience.

Some of the creatives they have worked with are:

  • DJs
  • Graphic designers
  • Architects
  • Storytellers
  • Performers

Planning a Detour

The Nieuwe Institute team told us that process of creating detour guides starts with a brainstorming session. Considering the number of creatives involved, this process produces an avalanche of ideas. These ideas need to be filtered and refined to create an experience that can be executed in the museum space. All ideas are encouraged during the brainstorming session, but not all of them are logistically possible.

One of the most important factors in the success of a Detour Guide is constant communication between all parties. The museum needs to know what to expect in their space, and the Detour Guides require support from the museum and its staff.

Benefits of Detour Guides

Detour Guides are a great way to combat museum fatigue. By communicating information in a unique way, guests feel like they are enjoying an experience rather than learning. The activities and experiences break up the information to allow museum visitors to retain more.

Empowering the guides to create their own tour also makes it a more engaging experience. The museum guests are interacting with someone who is passionate about what they are sharing and learning from the experiences and perspectives of others. It is a much more special experience than a scripted tour.

The activities also serve to help museum guests to rethink how they interact with art. The hands-on experiences allow them to understand the connection the link between their thoughts and what they create. Artists and creatives can help museum visitors to see that art is as much about the process as it is the finished product.

Find out more about Detour Guides on The Nieuwe Institute website.


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