We have been hibernating you could say, over the Winter, like a bear, or a bat (best not to mention bat maybe!). The country and the city’s museums have been relatively silent for most of the past year. Empty spaces, displays and objects, all sit silently, patiently waiting for visitors to return. So how do we prepare for that? How do we prepare our exhibitions, and our staff, how do we get used to our new normal?
Firstly, and most obviously, we have to think about health and safety. The goal has always been to minimize risks while maintaining an authentic experience for visitors and will continue to be so even when we are over the worst of this.
We have done what we have thought works best for our exhibition. We applied social distancing, we wore and will continue to wear masks, and we follow all the correct sanitising routines that we are all so used to now. Visitors are also given individually wrapped styluses pens which they can use to tap the interactive screens to minimise the touching of hands to displays along with more adaptive measures.
To keep visitors engaged during closures, museums started to experiment with new digital methods to encourage visitor participation and engagement, with the intent of sustaining their long-term connection with visitors, however this can become disconnected from the physical experience of visiting an exhibition or a historical place.
So how do we get that back and keep being both digital and tangible? We like many other museums, went digital while we were closed, especially with our online learning hub. While these resources are so important and will continue to be enhanced, we must also remember the importance of the tangible parts of a museum and think of the new opportunities to now combine the two to make the experience memorable on and offline.
The number of visitors to Dublinia each year could see up to 200,000 visitors, but this all slowed to a trickle last summer, and we expect much of the same this year. But we have to find the good in that, and that is our local citizens learning more about their city and having more space and opportunity to interact with our guides in what would normally be the usual busy summer months. Locals are now visiting us now, and this brings a whole new experience to it for us, the people who work in Dublinia.
We asked some of our tour guides what they were most looking forward to when we get back, and what they have missed the most.
One said ‘What I love most about Dublinia as a staff member is the people, and how much knowledge, passion and interest I encounter every working day from both staff and visitors’.
Another said, ‘I love that Dublinia portrays the link between our rich historic past and how that past has relevance and influence on our present day lives in a fun and interactive way’
Another said they miss their ‘interaction with visitors from all over the world and teaching them about our city’ and ‘I get great job satisfaction from all jobs in Dublinia and my work colleagues whom I miss and can’t wait till we get back and be all hands on deck‘.
With lots of challenges and opportunities still ahead, we are eager to get going again, and we’re eager for you to come and explore the history of your city with us.