MPM: Website vs. Museum

By Matt Meade and Danny Quijas

The Milwaukee Public Museum was an interesting experience. Though we both could not make the trip, Danny and I put our thoughts together to come up with a review of the website and physical museum

In terms of the website, it is actually quite impressive. It is very appealing and up to date. The colors and pictures provide a visually appealing layout for the viewer and the tabs at the top make for easy navigation. The research and collections department provide solid information for anybody looking to build knowledge or just to view images of collections. The website does a great job of combining both the images and text to create a nice balance for the viewer. It was interesting to see several images of the exhibits we actually seen in person. The comparison was something we had to make note of.

During our visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum we were able get a glimpse of some artifacts both first hand and behind the scenes, also. Being able to go back into the collection rooms with all the artifacts that are housed in three rooms was one of the most interesting parts. One of the best rooms was the mammoth room. It was amazing not only because it had the remains of the mammoth in it, but because it also had the skulls and a variety of osteological artifacts that most people aren’t able to see.

Furthermore, actually seeing the exhibits was fun and the most memorable. Being able to have bugs crawl onto your hands and to see all the bones that they had on display, especially the massive whale.

Also, the behind the scenes material was wonderful. It was cool to be able to look into places that many people do not typically get to see when visiting a museum. We got a true sense of the under the radar business that needs to take place in order to allow a museum to be run. For example, the botany department was interesting because of the special Native American plants that they held. The department with the all the bottled up fish and amphibians was kind of creepy but is something that is tough to find anywhere else. They even had a narwhal horn and it was awesome. We also got to be see the behind the scenes of the taxidermy. Things that would never get shown on their website reinforce the idea of how much better it is to see things in person.

Overall, it is much better to be able to see things in a physical representation rather than having to see things through a computer screen. It becomes more memorable and allows certain exhibits to trigger emotions. When an exhibit can trigger the emotions of its audience, it becomes significantly more memorable and exciting.

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Critique of the article on ‘Exhibit B’

By Matt Meade & Danny Quijas

Prior to reading the article featured in the Washington Post by Soraya Nadia McDonald, we had a general description of what “Exhibit B” was – a ‘human zoo.’ People are on display like they are figurines and they are free to answer any questions anyone has. Our original thoughts were as most would be if only a vague description of the exhibition was given, why are people on display? How is this even legal? Who would run such a thing? These were the questions swirling in our heads before reading the article and learning more about the exhibit as a whole. Soon after reading the article our thoughts developed. We had a better understanding of what took place and what the creator of the exhibit was attempting to do for the audience helped us understand the motive.

This article discusses the current exhibit and why it is the center of controversy. We enjoy that McDonald voices both arguments at hand with “Exhibit B.” They not only feature a quote from a member of the petition letter, but also one from the theater director, both bringing up valid points in their argument. An important similarity between these two quotes is that the creator of Exhibit B is a white male. This emphasis on the ‘white male’ seems to be a significant aspect of non-believers. It is apparent that the race of the creator can guide people into two polar opposite. Either they feel offended that he is white, or they feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it; he is aiming to do what not many white males have done.

Race is an obvious issue when it comes to this exhibit and the article does its job to emphasize that. Not only was the race of the creator a focus, but the gender of the creator is significant also. The ‘male’ aspect was featured plenty of times in the article and it interested us, primarily due to the center of the articles argument. McDonald felt it was necessary to include this quote, “created by white men seeking to communicate messages about race, all in spaces that are dominated by white men.” We believe that she meant to point out that the exhibit was not only created by a white individual but also a male. Not to mention that the two quotes in the article were from females, the writer of the article was also female. It seems as though there is some slight bias in the article due to the feminist perspective of the exhibit and racism. It does not have a significant impact on the piece as a whole, but any bias should be thrown out the window in a journalistic sense because it can cause some natural flaws in perspective.

We admired how the writer does a nice job relating the exhibit to some other real life situations. She compares the exhibit to movies and shows that were created by white men, stating that those works were seen as racist as well because they were created by white males. She also touches on the gore and vividness movies such as Django Unchained were, and how offended people were of it. This connection got us thinking about other films. For instance, the movie 12 Years a Slave was very graphic and hard to watch but since its director Steve McQueen is African American, it is not seen as racist. We made our own connections based on her writing so that was a great job on her part.

When it comes to the context of the actual argument of the article on whether “Exhibit B” is racist or not, we have both come to the conclusion that it is not racist. We believe that a major reason people classify it as racist is because it was created by white individual. People believe that because he doesn’t understand what it was like to live like them, then he does not have the right to have the exhibit and objectify African Americans. We understand where they are coming from but that is not his intention. Though he is using these people in an extreme matter, it seems that the only way to get his message across is by doing what he did. It causes controversy but it gets people talking.

All in all, this article did a great job on informing the reader of what “Exhibit B’ is in general, as well as why it is seen as racist to some and necessary to others. McDonald included great quotes, pictures and some opinion to give a great account of the controversy surrounding the exhibit. She gave a great account of the perspectives of many different individuals involved in the whole situation and it provided for a very informative and interesting piece. It helped us get a better idea of it and changed our views after doing some critical thinking on the issue.

Matt Meade and Danny Quijas review UA Bisphere 2

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My partner Danny and I reviewed a museum exhibit and these are our reactions. Danny has actually been to the exhibit in person so he shared his ideas with me. I am using the website as a tool to get an idea of what the exhibit is like along with critiquing how effective the website is as a whole, so in conjunction we combined our efforts to create a review of University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2.

The basics of the biosphere are that it has seven separate biomes that simulate different climates on the earth. The Biosphere 2 is an interactive learning exhibit that displays the two missions performed in 1991 and 1994, where they sealed “biospherians” in the glass enclosure for a certain amount of time to measure survivability. The mission of the biospherians was to survive in the biosphere for a certain amount of time and learn how survive in the different biomes. The exhibit also serves as a research center for the study of the Earth and its future. The tour explains how the 8 biospherians survived Mission 1, with first-hand accounts of the participants. Furthermore, it tours through the separate biomes and explains the experiments that are being conducted currently in addition to the missions that took place in 1991 and 1994.

The seven biomes include: human habitat, the savanna, the fog desert, the “technosphere” (basement area with machinery to control the laboratory), the ocean, the tropical rain-forest, and the south lung. The tour even gets into detail about what kind of species of plants and animals survived in the biosphere during the missions. It also displays how the biospherians managed to find food and water while sealed in the dome. While under, they managed to base most of their diet on the agricultural system that they had started.

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The tour primarily covers the study that is going on in the biosphere currently. Though they do get into some useful and interesting information on the missions that these people went on in the 90’s, they do not get into great detail on them. They could have definitely put more effort into going over what the so called “biospherians” went through. Another issue with the biosphere exhibit is that it is well known that they had many controversies over the missions. In mission one, there was much backlash that an injured participant left and re-entered the biosphere and returned with supplies. There was also problems financially that led to the premature end of mission 2. Also there are many speculations that the tour does leave out many interesting features of its history.

In terms of the website, it is very informational and easily accessible, but it is definitely not interactive in the least. It gives you all the information you need to know, the history of the biosphere, the mission of the exhibits staff, “fast facts,” and even an entire section dedicated to teachers. It provides viewers with the information needed if they wanted to pursue the opportunity to visit the exhibit. With that being said, the overall style and view of its website is quite dull. There are not many pictures or nothing that is very interactive. I clicked on “visit us” tab and seen a video to watch, but I had no luck playing it. The link to the video was broken and could not be viewed. There seems to be way too many words for the average person to want to read. In the 21st century, people like things that are appealing to the eyes and pictures/videos do exactly that. This website has some useful information in print, but most of it was so boring and dull that I had to skim through the drawn out paragraphs I encountered.

All in all, the exhibit does have its shortcomings but we recommend paying it a visit if you are in there area. It is not something that particularly stands out, but it can be very interesting if you are someone looking to have a fun day at the museum or someone interested in this kind of research. In terms of the website, it is not great. There are far too many words for my liking and a lot going on. No online exhibit to know exactly what the person is going to see is also a potential issue. On a scale of 1-10, one being the horrible and ten being excellent, we gave the exhibit a 7/10 and its website a 4/10.