I wanted to begin this next post by elaborating more on the incredible museum that I get to be a part of each day. This museum is, at it’s heart, a dedication to the incredible Ivan Bruschi. This museum highlights his findings, work space, and atmosphere of unknown adventure as you walk from floor to floor admiring the displays. This museum is full of sculptures, paintings, furniture, coins, books, household gadgets, clothing, and so much more from all over the world in an expansive timeline. It is seen in a way that everything has meaning as its eclecticism is celebrated through individual set-ups of each unique room and display. While this museum is diverse… its continuity and cohesion is impeccable and inviting.
This museum offers guided tours, history lessons for local children with their very own antique hunter leading the way, concerts and formal events, and also an exhibit space that is constantly changing that currently holds an exhibit on the Chimera of Arezzo. Along with the Casa Museo Ivan Bruschi, the Bruschi Foundation also rotates exhibitions in the Galleria Bruschi located in the Piazza de San Francesco. Even though I have just spent a month in this museum, my view and appreciation of the city of Arezzo has expanded exponentially.
My first project that Elisabetta and I have created is a satisfaction survey that is used to discover the opinions and ideas guests have for the museum, so we know what changes to make involving social media and displays. I began by working side by side with my supervisor, asking her questions, to discover what she was hoping to gain from this survey, and narrowed that our main findings needed to cover were who came to the museum, how they heard about the museum, what they thought of the attractions, and how they could describe their overall experience.
By knowing the demographics of our audience, we will be able to determine who we are needing to cater the museum environment for regarding age, location, and language spoken. Through advertising questions we can learn the best way to reach our audience through the social media we use, the events that we hold, and their preferred forms of communication. We sought out to learn about the attractions we provide so we know which ones to display, which ones to elaborate on during tours, and which to use in our advertisements. Lastly, overall experience is important so we can learn if what we are trying to portray is what is being portrayed. In our circumstance we are hoping our audience feels welcomed, that our work is unique and eclectic, and that their experience was interactive and informational.
I was able to create and design this survey to gage these topics, as well as create a program that will allow us to compare these survey results through graphs being created as we input our results. By voicing my opinion on what should modified, using my knowledge of research statistics to formulate questions and design the questionnaire, and by honestly communicating with my supervisor regarding my skillset and opinions, we were able to create a very informational survey, that I cannot wait to interpret my results for.
Throughout the process of working on this first project, being assertive was a necessity. There were many moments that I had to take a chance by sharing what I have learned from my research methods courses, be brave in trusting my confidence in the information I was sharing, and to not hold back when I thought of a way this process could become more efficient or more accurately gain the answers we were trying to research. Being assertive isn’t about being aggressive, but is instead more guided toward speaking up when there are issues in communication or you are confused about a certain task, and not being afraid to share ideas and thoughts that you think could be of use and represent who you are.
There are many do’s and don’ts when working in a new environment, and especially when you are working somewhere that is completely different in language, culture, and lifestyle. When working it Italy is always important to speak up when you are having a hard time closing the language gap. You learn the language as you go, but it is better to clarify an issue early, than to be guessing what was correct later. It is also very important to dress and act professionally while you are at work, as it has a higher standard of fashion that in the United States, and it is important to dress accordingly when you show up to work with guests or employs of the program that you are representing. Also, don’t expect for things to always work in a perfectly timed manner in Italy. Timelines are much more flexible, as most restaurants, museums, and shops are owned by locals who are used to dealing with traffic or taking off for lunch with their families. On occasion you may show up to work at a scheduled time and it may not be open yet, or your supervisor had to step out. It is important to keep the Italian perspective in mind when you are working in Italy.
For my next museum projects I am restructuring the guided tours that the museum gives to English speakers, as well as creating a children’s workbook so they can work through the guided tour while having a more interactive experience with the art and antiques. Having a fluent English speaker can come in handy at a museum that gets a lot of international travelers. Their main languages that are spoken by visitors are: Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish. There is currently not a tour system put in place at the museum. Typically whoever is at the front desk at that time, who has time to spare can walk around and explain the collections to guests, or if someone reserves time for a tour, whoever is working that speaks that language can give the tour or hand out pamphlets in that language to the guests. By having a written tour typed out, it can later be translated into different languages that can be learned by any other worker or intern that is eager to give tours.
The idea of giving tours was something I was really passionate about. I love giving tours around the University of Oklahoma to incoming freshman, and I love the customer service aspects of my job back home, and the idea of making others feel at home (in a museum set up as a home) is very appealing. I started to create these tours by looking through the museum catalogs of the types of collections we have at the museum, such as the Egyptian collection or the coin collection that we have present. I then mapped out the museum, and targeted the main attractions of each room. I went from room to room and typed out the major collections that were present in that section of the museum, and then included the attractions that stood out in the section. It was important to me to also tell the story of the museum and Ivan Bruschi by incorporating his daily life, the meaning of the room that we were in, and the way he shaped each collection as we came across each piece of history.
I am also creating a children’s workbook for the museum in English, that can also be translated into different languages for guests. This workbook will include games that require the children to find certain paintings in the room, draw a certain sculpture that they see in front of them, draw something that they collect at home, and give brief history lessons through learning vocabulary that we use around the museum. This creates an engaging environment for children, so they are actually learning, but they just see it as playing games.
Through working on these tours, it was essential to keep in mind the aspects of multiculturalism that we learned in our internship meetings. We are working in an environment that we may not feel comfortable in, we are already past the honeymoon phase, we are experiencing culture shock, and we have to keep our minds set on succeeding in a place where we cannot always understand what is asked of us. While this process sounds scary, the main thing to keep in mind is to put yourself in the shoes of who you are working with. If you are concerned that you cannot understand the language that is used, change the pace of the conversation, because they are probably having a hard time understanding you too. If you are worried if you are performing a job incorrectly, ask for help, because they are probably unaware that the might not have been clear on a topic. If you are having issues with scheduling, ask them if there are other tasks you may need to complete or if you can come in early or stay late, because they may not know the options that you have to work with. Keep open in communication, and keep an open mind.
Idiomatic expression and differences in gestures were also important to keep in mind when creating these tours. Italians use a lot of phrases that translate differently in their language, but mean a similar thing to the says we have here. For example, “in bocca al lupo” means good luck in the same way that “break a leg” does in America. When creating tours it was important to incorporate sayings that gave value and information on the local culture that visitors were experiencing. Also, in Italy, there are a lot more hand gestures used in normal conversation. So, when describing artifacts it was very important to be vivid and accurate in describing the message I was trying to convey. As well as, if Italian speakers come into the museum, it is helpful that I can say “hold on one minute, please wait here, I will be right back” with only hand gestures.
Cultural points I have found interesting about the museum include the openness and boldness in conversation. If there is an idea that is going to be thrown out, each director isn’t afraid to share their opinion in a very open manner. I really appreciate that they do not hold back because it shows their passion for the overall success of the museum. The workplace is very inviting and welcoming, even if I can only hold small talk with some of my coworkers. Everyone is eager to help each other, and help me feel included when we are solving problems and collaborating on ideas. My supervisor is extremely understanding and has great guidance on what she wants me to achieve with each task that I am assigned.
One aspect that I would find appealing in a competing museum, and that I think could improve this museum as a whole, would be more information regarding how to follow their social media and calendars that include all of the events that they hold. I am lucky to be in a museum that also functions as a concert hall and accepts traveling art displays, and I think it would be helpful for people to know how to get more information about upcoming attractions. I would recommend to post more information on how to follow their social media sites on pamphlets and signs around the museum and the city, and create a calendar that is sent out in newsletters, to better spread this information. Overall, this experience has been one of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to see how I continue to grow in this role.