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The Participatory Museum

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Visitor participation is a hot topic in the contemporary world of museums, art galleries, science centers, libraries and cultural organizations. How can your institution do it and do it well? The Participatory Museum is a practical guide to working with community members and visitors to make cultural institutions more dynamic, relevant, essential places. Museum consultant...more
Paperback, 388 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Museum 2.0
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book says it is about museums, but it has been popular amongst the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, full of public and academic librarians. It has some great advice for designing participatory exhibits and spaces, and I got a lot out of it from a library perspective too.

"The best participatory experiences are not wide open. They are scaffolded to help people feel comfortable engaging in the activity. There are many ways to scaffold experiences without prescribing the result." - She gives an e...more
A book I want to press into the hands of all my museum colleagues and say "Read this before you make any more plans about the future of your museum."
I've been reading Nina's blog ( for years now, so her big ideas--ways to help visitors engage with the museum, ways for museums and visitors to work together and talk--weren't new to me. But it was revelation to have all those ideas in one spot.
This is one of those books I read with a pencil in hand--underlining key points...more
Very readable discussion of ways that museums can increase participation, through guest contributions, collaborations, hosting community events, etc. This would be a little hard to use as a reference, it's really a book that you read through and attempt to keep its main points in mind for the future. Simon is right on the money with a lot of this, for example, I (and I'm probably not alone here) hate museums that ask questions of the public that are just supposed to 'get you thinking', or questi...more
Mar 08, 2012 Narr added it
Shelves: museums
If you work in museums, you NEED to read this book. Largely because everybody else is. Or at least says they are.

I want to hate Nina Simon, but I don't. She IS a business woman selling a product which she's happy to help you with (please make no mistake) and yes I think she can be a little too Pollyanna at times, but I tend to agree with her and find I like many of her ideas. What I do (really) hate is the cult that has grown up around her. Her ideas are good, but they're not the only ones. I g...more
I have been reading Nina's Museum 2.0 blog since 2007. I always loved her ideas and examples, but really wanted a holistic framework in which to understand her ideas and place the clear applications she presented. The Participatory Museum is just that. I found it useful as someone working on a web application as well as someone interested in working in the museum field someday.

I think the book is great for cultural professionals, volunteers, museum lovers, educators and anyone interested in the...more
Ed Smiley
This book is for those interested in museum interactivity, or participatory events. It is written by our new head of the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz CA.

Having met Nina, and having seen her enthusiasm, I was able to appreciate this book more than some general readers.

She argues fairly persuasively that participation and collaboration with the community is a meaningful value for public cultural institutions, form an adjunct to, not a substitute for, or an alternative to, its other mi...more
Betsy McGee
I love Nina Simon's ideas about make museums more interconnected with their guests and communities, but I could have taken or left this book. It would be wonderful if all museums could be participatory, but I feel that, in all honesty, there will always be a place for the cold, look-but-don't-touch museums of old. To me, the book borders on "preachy" in some places. That being said, the book is an absolute must for anyone looking into museums as a career.
Mills College Library
069.15 S5958 2010
Michael Fiegenschuh
Great book. Given the evolution of visitor expectations in the "Experience Economy," this book could easily be titled The Future of Museums. It will be exciting to see how institutions embrace and execute these ideas in the coming years.
I highly recommend this book to everyone working in the museum field. This book provides an opportunity to open up a conversation at your museum about the future of museums and how we will act, look, and remain relevant.
Engaging look at how new media are being used to create social experiences in the world of museum (exhibition) design.
Also applicable for libraries! Fascinating ideas and great instruction on how to pull this off!
Outstanding. This will be a core title in my professional library.
Brian Newman
Great book for thinking about participatory culture and art
A great and very inspiring book!
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