Engagement vs. distraction

Just catching up on Nina Simon’s Museum 2.0 blog, and discovering this great post about a primary tension in exhibit space design. After consulting and writing for a long while, Nina is now ‘on the ground’ as Executive Director of The Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, where she is bringing her innovative spirit to the life of a small arts organization.

At issue is the museum’s new ‘creativity lounge,’ a space within an exhibit hall that invites relaxation and self-directed reading or the like. The space also includes a jigsaw puzzle, which has proven a hit with visitors, but a point of tension with the artist who’s work is in the room. To Nina, the puzzle is a relevant point of connection for people in the space. For the artist, the puzzle is a distraction — far enough off topic from the exhibition to be distracting.
The interchange is well worth a reading. Evolving practices that make the art PART of the experience but not always the focus of the experience will inevitably bring more discussion like this.


  1. Kelly Dylla says

    I really enjoyed this particular post by Nina Simon. I appreciated the honesty in the post between the artist and Ms. Simon. I agree with you Andrew, that these conversations/issues will only grow as participation becomes more and more essential to an engaging art experience.

  2. Jerry Yoshitomi says

    Andrew and Kelly are right on the mark about the importance of participation as essential to an engaging art experience. It’s important that we use experiments like this to test what makes sense in each environment.