Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Passion of the Visitor

passionate, museum, visitor, joe geranio, affinity groups, gyroscope inc, maria mortati, museums This week, while looking for a museum-related image, I came across the above pictures of Joe Geranio. Joe is a an administrator of the Julio Claudian Iconographic Association, and is generally in love with its iconography (see his website for more). His story is a great example of museum "Affinity Groups". Above you'll see him posed between 2 busts-- photos taken 23 years apart. I love this story for so many reasons- the fascination of seeing him change over time, his fascination with the subject, and the fact that he could go back to the same institution all those years later and take that picture. Finally, reading the comments on his Flickr page made me happy that I wasn't the only one who cared. The Minnesota Local History blog has a great post and comments that talk about the need for and types of Affinity Groups that they have had experience with. These groups can be the lifeblood of history museums today. John Durel and Anita Nowery Durel wrote about this extensively in their paper: "A Golden Age for Historic Properties". I encourage you to read it- it's a great article. As you may suspect, affinity groups are groups of people who formally or informally have a relationship with an aspect of your museum. Joe and his "Julio Claudian" cohorts are an affinity group because they are passionately interested in this aspect of collection, and will come back to it again and again. They are part of the holy trinity of museum visitors. The attention being paid to fostering repeat visitors is worth it, and something I will definitely write about in the future. The fact that I "found" Joe via a random search on Flickr is also a wonderful story. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Creative Commons license on Flickr. I use it for images on this blog when my photo library fails me. Like a trip to the bookstore, it's led me to some interesting people and places as I look for one thing and often discover another.

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