Thursday, November 13, 2014

Harbor History Museum Audio Tour

It feels like it is time to visit Harbor History Museum, especially if you haven’t been in a while. Don’t you agree? The Peninsula Art League 2014 Open Juried Art Show is closing on Saturday, November 15th.  There are some fantastic works hanging in the show and no one should be without art in their liife, even if the art is only hanging on a museum wall.

And yes, there are the history artifacts showcasing the rich, multilayer history of the greater Gig Harbor community and the settlers that made our greater community what it is today in the permanent gallery..  You might be the wrong age to attend school for a day in Midway School, but you’re never to old to visit it.

There are times when you visit museums, and this visit may be one of those times, when you want to wander through the exhibits by yourself taking your time.  You don’t need or don’t want a docent to explain an exhibit; you want to take it all in so that you can make your own interpretation of what you are seeing and understanding.  And when you see that particular early resident you want to hear a little bit more about them than what is written on the marker.  At these times, you might pick up a museum catalogue, if there is one  at the desk, when you pay admission to refer to as you wander around.  Other times, you may or may not ask the docent on duty.  

You would like a more detail explanation than what is written on the exhibit panel but you want to experience all the exhibits at your own pace, by yourself.  Maybe one exhibit jogs your memory and you want to backtrack to a previous exhibit to see the connection again.  Or you want to experience it  without having someone talking to you or distracting you from your own thoughts.  Or you just automatically hate guided tours.   You are not alone, museum audience research shows us that guided tours are not a preferred form of interpretation for many visitors.  Too many guided tours perhaps too structured, or too passionate, based upon the individual guide.  The visitor or guest value solitary and quiet communal experiences above those experienced with a guide.

Well, the Harbor History Museum, like other major museums, or history museums, or cultural centers at the National Parks Service, has an option available for you.  

Antenna Audio, the world’s leading producer of interpretative audio tours, awarded the Harbor History Museum the equipment when they emerged winner out of 20 participants, of a contest.  A great start for the new museum facility which opened in September 2010.

Jennifer Kilmer, then Executive Director, put it best when she said:  “Being interactive is very important for what we want the museum to be.  Hearing things make it come to life for people, with different voices and music.”

The actual audio program was written, recorded and edited by staff and volunteers:  Linda, Richard, and David McCowen, Karen Haas, Nicole Langlow and Warren Belfany.  Chris Ballasiotes donated a studio and his time to record a large portion of the audio.  You’re not hearing only one voice, but instead several different voices.  You also have the option to listen to the narrative more than once; you can control the volume and because the audio is directed to the ear, its easier to hear and you’re not as apt to be distracted by others in the museum..    

Gig Harbor and the Gig Harbor Peninsula’s history is fascinating with a wonderful mix of people, stories, events and neighborhoods like Cromwell, Arletta, Artondale, Raft Island, as well as Gig Harbor itself. 

The tour starts with the Native Americans who were here first, who helped the first explorers and settlers, and then move one to the communities, the industries, the settlers themselves.  Or, to put it another way, it takes you on a tour of past centuries to the present, providing interesting facts and features, heritage and history.  But if you prefer you can start with the present and go backwards in history.  The choice is yours.

Next time you visit, why not ask the front desk for the audio player; they are available with the cost of admission.  Whether you are a first-time visitor, or a frequent visitor, you might enjoy listening to the narratives.  You never know what new things about Gig Harbor you’ll learn!  Things you can share from your point of view with others.

  • Museum Audience Insight
  • Peninsula Gateway article on Antenna Audio's gift of Interpretative Audio Tours
  • Museum 2.0

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