Monday, September 25, 2017

Observations on The Abbey

Here at the Abbey, there's a British faculty member who's also an early modernist, and it's delightful to chat.  Unlike at home, where most of my conversations with the other early modern person in my department are about bureaucratic stuff, and not early modern anything (and we don't seem to have ever really become friends), we don't have much bureaucracy in common here, so mostly we chat about early modern stuff.  It's fun getting our geek on and knowing the other person is making the same connections and such.

At Bletchley Park the other day, I went with the student group and some other faculty folks.  And I noticed, the students really fly through things.  They pass through the museum almost without stopping.  The other faculty folks and I, in contrast, were listening to explainers, reading stuff, and so on.  And so, by the end, I would have been happy to spend another hour or two there, and the students would have mostly been happy to leave an hour earlier.

It's similar when I talk to them about visiting, say, London.  They'll say they went to Westminster Abbey, and I'll ask which part they liked best, or did they go see this other part, and they'll say that they didn't go in, just walked past the outside.  It seems to me that if you're just going to walk past the outside of a building that's more interesting inside, you might as well just look at a picture and save yourself the effort.

But I am old and grumpy, I guess.


  1. Heh, at £17 for student admissions, I can't really blame anyone for not going inside Westminster Abbey!

    But yeah, the lack-of-patience-with-museums thing is frustrating. I noticed it when we were in Dublin this summer, too -- there is a FANTASTIC new museum in the General Post Office with everything you could possibly want to know about the Easter Rising, tons of video and interactive stuff to explore, and they breezed through it in about half an hour. It kind of made me wish we'd gone for the much-less-interesting-but-free exhibit at the Museum of History and Decorative Arts instead, because really, what's the point of paying for stuff if people aren't going to take advantage of it? Grump.

  2. I take first years to a museum, and have literally sat in the cafe at the exit sending people back in if they come out too quickly - they have a worksheet! (which is very school like, but it gives them some structure, as they appear to have lots of problems with knowing what to look at and how to take time in a museum, especially one without shiny flashy things where you press buttons).

    They think I'm very old and grumpy, I'm sure, but having argued that the Uni needed to pay for their entry I'm not going to then have them all complaining that we didn't cover the same stuff in class...

  3. I'm planning my study abroad now, and I have been thinking about not taking students to some museums because they'll be wasting money and not actually taking time to pay attention to things. Sigh. Then again, if I give them a worksheet like JaneB said, then perhaps they will try to learn something instead of zipping through.

    One of my least favorite things about visiting the Vatican Museum when I was in Rome was that there were no places to sit and contemplate the art. Being on my feet for so long made it impossible to stand still for long and actually appreciate things. It was seriously painful. I'm hoping to be in slightly better shape this coming May, but the best thing will be that I'll be prepared for no opportunities to sit. Hopefully we'll be able to schedule things better with that knowledge in our pockets.