Michigan State University

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Even before arriving at the MSU Museum for field trips, class projects or family outings, visitors are helping shape their exhibit experience. Visitors will be the key contributors for an upcoming exhibit being planned by the MSU Museum Education Team, called “VOICE.”
Inspiration for the exhibit came from the book “The Participatory Museum,” by Nina Simon, where museums are increasingly becoming places where visitors “can create, share, and connect with each other.”
Because the MSU Museum’s collections cover a diversity of natural science and culture, the exhibit also offers a chance to make new connections from across usually separate categories or ways of thinking.
“Voice is expressed in natural science, material culture, and through human expression. With the concept of ‘voice,’ this exhibit will explore many of the different voices that are used, offer various interpretations of what these voices are, and examine what they mean,” explains one of the exhibit’s organizers, Mary Worrall, MSU Museum education specialist and assistant curator of folk arts.
The Education Team sought submissions in a variety of media — pictures, texts, poems, images, digital files — surrounding different interpretations of “voice.”Think: roar, sing, cry, whisper, persuade, converse. How are those voices conveyed?

“Our hope is this exhibit will be co-created with members of the community and their ideas will drive the actual content of the exhibit,” Worrall adds. “Visitors will see themselves here, which is important. In addition, they will also be challenged to see things in new ways. ‘Voice’ will start a conversation.”
“The collections – as tangible heritage – create a rich environment for visitors to explore the intangible heritage of communication, and the ingenious and effective methods for that communication in the human and animal worlds,” observes MSU Museum Director Gary Morgan. “Artifacts and specimens like these are a great platform for exciting minds and starting conversations. We expect to hear a lot of voices in this exhibit,“ he adds.LISTEN to a feature about ‘VOICE’ on WKAR Public Media.

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