I like Al-alo's ideas, it could actually bring the masses to the harbor front.
Do you think we will call this the IGoR or IGRAM?
I agree with KenS. I've been to many museums that are devoted to topics that I’m interested in but have turned out to be great big bores. Sometimes the bookstores are the best part. EricOak can wag his finger and blame our short attention spans but museums should be designed to inform and engage.
Has anyone been to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum? In my opinion, this is a fine example of good intentions and bad execution. The Museum of Sex is another example of a good idea but failed in the execution.
On the other hand, The Shelburne Museum that I went to near Burlington, VT at a glance seemed like a totally dull collection of Americana but it was extremely well done. There was an entire building devoted to quilts and another to decoy ducks(boring stuff made fascinating). Most of the buildings are historic and were disassembled, moved and reassembled on the museum grounds.
ok. here me out.
please understand, this assumes that the NFTA light rail shops are relocated - for safety and space considerations.
the DL&W terminal makes good sense for museums with large heavy artifacts, like airplanes. However, there is no chance the 1 million dollar relocation donation will approach the cost of retrofitting a structure of that size and construction to be a suitable museum space.
However, some of those costs could be shared among a few museum who are, would like or could relocate to the waterfront. For example, one scenario:
Co-locate the Cotter, the Aerospace, and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society (BTW, worst name ever) within the terminal. Reconstruct the headhouse of the station (the waiting area) for additional space. Turn the former BECHS building over to the Albright-Knox.
Now you enable the AK to gain much needed space while keeping synergy with the BP. And down at the water's edge, you now have potentially the Military Park, Cotter, Aerospace, BECHS and proposed Erie Canal Museums within walking distance. Shared facilities (or even staff and equipment) would lower everyone's bottom line.
Offer joint ticket ticket options to increase visitation to all - its been done in Cinci @ their Union Station.
However, I do have a major concern about the number of overlapping museums we seem to have. Could the Aerospace museum's collection be sensibly integrated into the BECHS and Military Museum? Id guess yes. Could the Cotter, Erie Canal and BECHS be combined? Probably. Should the redundancy be reduced? Yep. Will they? You dont wanna know what I think.
and in the coming years after all of this comes to pass, and somebody else says this was their idea, tell 'em "naaaaaah. it was al-alo's"
Onestarmartin, Do you really yawn when you go to museums? When people's attention spans are so brief and their ability to contemplate so compromised that thay need more and more stimulation to appreciate anything, well...it says more about them and our ADD culture than it does about the quality of the museum and its objects.
Al-Alo, remember my 13-May comments below?
"My dream is to see the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society relocate to a large warehouse-style building in which it can have the freedom to mount creative displays and properly tell the fascinating history of the Buffalo area. (There are thousands of artifacts not currently on display.) Ditch the current Victorian-era moniker and rename it the Buffalo History Museum. The Cotter would be a great addition to their collection and children would love it. Oh, and what to do with BECH's Nottingham Terrace location? Hand it over to the Albright-Knox for their use so they can breathe some life into the place. (Put pre-1950 art there and keep post-1950 pieces at their Elmwood complex.) This would allow the Albright-Knox to keep their visitors in close proximity and maximize attendance."
I'm glad you've expanded upon the ideas. I think it's only prudent to organize all of these various entities to make them more effective.
Davvid, I couldn't agree more with you. I used to live around the corner from the Museum of Sex and you couldn't even tell that the place was open. It was ridiculed for its lackluster presentation. It really says something when sex can be made boring.
I love the Shelburne Museum. It's a very eclectic place. There is a large ship sitting on an open lawn. They have small buildings scattered about the property that tell amazing stories. One building, for example, tells the history of a traveling circus. One building has a collection of carriages. They also have a stunning modern home that is used to explain trends in home design. There are no interactive displays at Shelburne, but it's a fun place and an institution for Vermonters.
The idea that people would consider devoting a museum to one item, the Edward Cotter boat, seems absurd. Include the Cotter with the BECHS collection so that they can use it as a resource for the future. Of course, it's important to pull BECHS into the 21st century to demand that they engage the visitor.
I must say I yawn when I visit BECHS. Dusty displays that haven't been updated in decades are not helpful in explaining Buffalo's history. They have a large collection that remains locked away. Their website is poor and I would be eager to see their yearly attendance figures for the past 30 years.
Attention spans are more brief than years ago. It's an unfortunate reality. Perhaps, interactive displays are too expensive for local museums, but these institutions should at least feature their most historical and exciting items. The Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto, and the Canadian Warplane Museum, in Hamilton, do not rely on interactive displays, but their professional presentations make these two museums highly-visited attractions.
Most Buffalonians know little of the area's history. I put the blame squarely on BECHS for its failure to live up to its own mission statement effectively. They were to release a comprehensive strategic plan for the future, but I don't think it has yet been released.
In a March post, I suggested that many of these small museum ideas should band together with existing museums to create one powerhouse entity. If you want to draw tourists and share Buffalo's rich historical legacy, you need something big that allows for creativity.
I think what everybody is getting at here is that successful museums require well developed interpretive plans. Museums without them are almost always a yawner.
Developing such a plan requires in house or consultant expertise. Both can be costly. But for many new "museums" it is an afterthought, and often not considered when developing a budget. When opening time comes, the exhibits are cobbled together and/or have no sensible progression or grouping. Visitors end up bored or confused no matter how good the subject matter and artifacts.
By maintaining many small similar museums, the cash pool just gets divided further and the final product is diminished. At least with a bit of proximity, you could combine some back office/maintenance/storage/equipment/lab/distance learning/advertising/outreach facilities and staff. Are any of these potential costs savings planned?
I hope so. Not just for common sense, but for a better final product.
According to the BNews today, the museum is going to be located on the east side of HSBC arena adjacent to the plaza. I'm not quite sure how they can locate it there, in the atrium somehow? The space behind the Sabre's store seems to make a lot more sense. Was the news just incorrect on that one?
I love the idea of the Albright Knox expanding with a modern building and expanding its classic collection with a classic building (the historical museum).
There are plenty of historical buildings in Buffalo which would provide a great alternative to the Historical Museum and there would be 3 choice areas for the historical museum to choose 1) somewhere adjacent to the Science Museum in Humboldt Park which would be great because they partner on quite a few exhibits 2) the Botanical Gardens in South Park. South Buffalo is starved for culturals and they have plenty of room between the park, the botanicals and the basilica. 3) somewhere in the cobblestone district. The perfect option would be to rebuild the passenger concourse to the DL&W for the Historical Museum which would stretch the wharf district all the way to Michigan.
I think using just the second floor may be problematic. Primarily due to the same safety and egress issues the Senecas had when they looked at the location. Of course, anything CAN be done if enough money at time is thrown @ it. But im not sure that is the soundest approach.
Additionally, the second floor will prove to be very difficult to climate control. The construction of the trainshed was not built with that application in mind. Keeping an unheated space directly below will only exasorbate the situation - especially on the waterfront. Granted, many of the artifacts (like the planes) will not be sensitive to swings in temperature or humidity, however, some may be. While that could be worked around, human habitation of the space still needs to be considered.
In any case, it will add addtional cost implications that a million dollars will not even begin to cover.
Its unfortunate, but maintaining the light rail shops at that location seem to make redevelopment very difficult - and rebuilding the waiting area impossible. It may be the whole building or none of it.
I know I sound like im playing Sim Buffalo, but the shops need to be relocated to further development @ or near the DL&W. Now is the time, and it presents an opportunity to exend the light rail using the cobblestone loop or via South Park to Lackawanna (SP makes more sense to me).
Im willing to share in the glory, but im pretty sure that I mentioned this to Millard Fillmore at some point - :)
Lets not forget the Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society located not far from here on Erie St. or the weather museum.
There you have it. A near complete Museum district. Joint ticketing, joint marketing. Now, that would get locals and regional vistiors (purhaps further?) - as well as a good amount of NF visitor spillover.
onestarmartin...museums that are state of the art and have interactive displays will attract visitors. If you put a bunch of artifacts/exhibits into a big empty hall where you walk through in 20 minutes and say "is that it", you are correct...YAWN!
We'll see what the latest canalside plan is when the "ultra secret ECHDC" unveils its latest plans(rev. 986,000) sometime later this summer.
Or you can go to this fantastic website and find out everything about canalside...
Oops...several months after I stumbled across this site, it is still under construction with a completely outdated picture of Bass Pro in the central wharf location and NOTHING more.
PaulBuffalo, I'm wondering how you know what "most Buffalonians" know about their city's history? Have you asked all of them?
As far as "interactive" museums: it's the parents', the teachers', the community's, and the individual's responsibility to engage art, cultural, and scientific artifacts--it's not the museum's (especially the cash-poor museum's) job to constantly scheme new ways to keep transparently interesting items, themes and artifacts meaningful to people. And the last thing people need in this culture, especially children, is more technology to crutch them along as they "interact" with their museums. If we still valued humanistic thinking and reflection instead of faddish, over-produced "interactive" stunts, we might have a more thoughtful and engaged citizen.
I can't help thinking that if powerful history, machines, painting, and sculture induce a yawn, then the problem lies in us.
I thought the Pedaling History folks want a very specific site on the Erie Canal Harbor Area (the site of an old bicycle manufacturing plant), but, for whatever reason, aren't getting traction on it. I heard they are giving up on that, since it doesn't seem to be working.
EricOak, no I haven't asked most Buffalonians whether they know the area's history. I have the audacity to suggest that they don't.
Yes, it is every museum's responsibility to engage the visitor, just as the teacher must engage the student. Museums should never settle for being a passive or static experience. If you read my previous comment, I listed two museums nearby that do not rely on Disney effects: the ROM and the Canadian Warplane Museum. They engage the visitor by presenting quality items in context. I lived in NYC for many years and my favorite museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, beats the attendance records of any other museum in NYC. It does not rely on what you refer to as 'interactive stunts'. It presents quality and it refreshes the presentations over time. The New York Historical Society has refreshed its presentations, too, and it does not rely on anything except putting a lot of their collection on display.
I agree that BECHS is cash-poor and they don't have the money for high-technology. I do disagree with you that technology is a danger. After all, you're using this website and interacting, aren't you? Why is technology good for you and me, but not the museum visitor? Lighting a sculpture properly involves technology, but that is considered acceptable. The proper frame on a painting utilizes technology, albeit primitive. Where does one draw the line? Well, when technology intrudes on the experience instead of enhancing it. Just as technology evolves, history evolves. They are entwined and each relies on the other for context. (Without the new technology of Edison's kinescopes that allowed for filming of the Pan-Am Exhibition, we would understand so much less about the experience of that great event.) Shouldn't BECHS put forward a master plan of how they want to evolve in the 21st century?
I see your concern about dumbing down the message. You're so right that powerful history, machines, painting and sculpture shouldn't induce a yawn. I don't think they do. However, there are very few of these powerful items on display at BECHS. Right now, visiting BECHS is like going to the Smithsonian and not being able to see Lincoln's top hat.