Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
Last weekend, my friend and I visited the Hirshhorn Museum to see the exhibit Days of Endless Time, which made me to introspect my everyday life. I noticed that this major museum tried to position itself as contemporary. And then I see this article and Zenia’s post about what strategy the museum has taken to modernized itself. It seems that the strategy that ending docent program and recruiting young and more time devoted volunteers cause lots of rebound from former loyal docents.
“Hirshhorn officials say the change was needed to keep up with the times. Visitors don’t want formal tours anymore; they want casual interactions with staff who can talk about the work and ‘help them understand it better. And guides need to be in the gallery frequently to do this well.” If those officials really say the truth, the change is coherent to the museum’s longterm development and works for current audience. However, that’s seemingly unacceptable for those loyal docents some of whom have volunteered decades. They surely got angry when the museum dismissed the docent program just because it found younger and cheaper labor force. And what’s more important to the museum, those docents might be donors as well. How to pacify them becomes a big question. How can an organization make changes which are for the longterm development while won’t hurt the feelings or benefits of the current “consumer”- donors, volunteers, real customers? How can an arts managers balance those well and make win-win decision? At this case, I think the Hirshhorn Museum should get those docents informed well ahead of time instead of warning them in the last minutes, thank their work, tell them the reasons why it should make changes, and involve them in other parts of work/participation.