Friday, November 14, 2008

'Tale of Two Cities' - The Perfect Guide for Malaysian Museums

Foo Yee Ping -, the columnist of ‘Tale of Two Cities’ (The MetroStar, Fridays) writes regularly about museums with updates on events and exhibitions in the museums.

Unfortunately, the writer is New York based, thus her domain is mainly American museums.

Yet, Yee Ping’s ‘Tale of Two Cities’ makes a good reading and her weekly contributions offer Malaysian readers some fascinating ideas and concepts introduced in megastar museums i.e Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art etc.

These award winning institutions are an integrated part of the American social fabric and the exhibitions are the best in their league. It is not uncommon to find visitors from all ages making a beeline to see awe-inspired collections. Statistically, the US has some of the highest museums per capital in the world yet more Americans are visiting museums from the years before.

However, now that its economy is in near shambles, American museum operators must up the ante to entice new visitors and keep the regular ones.

Some innovative promotions include ‘Pay-What-You-Wish’ Day to help boost museum traffic. On these selected days, visitors have the option to tour the museums by making donations instead of paying the average US$15 (RM40) admission.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC for example chose instead to have free admission for its main exhibition hall and charged admission only for specially tailored exhibitions.

Getting Malaysians to visit museums was never an economical issue. Most are public funded and admission is next to nothing. The pertinent issue confronting Malaysian museum operators is more of the negative perception Malaysians have about our museums. If they are serious about their roles, they may well learn a few tricks from Yee Ping’s 'Tale of Two Cities’.

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