Attracting an audience

Holly Mutascio
1st year graduate student
Museum Exhibition Planning + Design University of the Arts

Last Friday, we brought our prototypes over to Art Sanctuary with the hopes of meeting people from South of South and engaging with them through our designs. Prior to this night, we revised our prototypes based on feedback and observations we received from our Design Philly reception. Some of us even came up with new ideas to test. My group worked on changing the prompts to our talkback “family tree.” We also created a large map of the South of South neighborhood where people could indicate with color-coded stickers where they live, work, go to school, and spend their free time. We also provided them with post-it notes to write down their memories of these places.

We started off the evening inside Art Sanctuary’s gallery (surrounded by breath-taking artwork by Danny Simmons!). A couple of guests trickled in and they seemed to be drawn to the map. We quickly learned that one of our guests lived somewhere just outside of the boundaries of the map. We had based the boundaries of our map off of came from the South of South Neighborhood Association’s website, but we realized that the spirit of a neighborhood defies what is charted on a map. South of South extends beyond where we originally thought, and this is something we need to consider in the next iteration of our prototypes and in where we need to focus our outreach in the future.

As the evening progressed, we did not have many guests stopping by. One of our professors, Dana Schloss, came up with an excellent idea to move the prototypes outside, on the sidewalk, and on a patio in the back of Art Sanctuary. She also cut up some paper grocery bags, taped them onto a sandwich board, and created a sign inviting passersby to check out the event. One of my group members, Laura, also had a great idea to further color code the directions for a map to not only clarify what we were asking, but also to make the exhibit pop and hopefully attract people’s attention. Despite these efforts, we did not have any more guests that evening. Even though we only had as many guests as we could count of one hand, we still gained some feedback on our map prototype and we certainly learned a lot about how difficult it can be to attract an audience!

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