Theme Park vs. Museum

I believe that a museum is a place of discovery, and how people discover knowledge can be done in a variety of ways. But since we are in the midst of an “edutainment” culture I started to think about how some museums and theme parks are starting to look very similar. Museums used to simply house objects, but now they compete with the conceptual experiences theme parks can give.

Epcot Center is labeled as a theme park. The Disney name is splashed everywhere. Instead of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and the Lion King, Epcot houses a Mexican folk art gallery, an American heritage gallery, and showcases different countries of the world. It sounds like a traditional museum to me…with one exception…there are rides. Rides must be the difference between museums and theme parks. But wait…a lot of museums are incorporating rides and interactive experiences into their programs. Take World of Coca-Cola. There is a 4-D ride as part of the experience. The California State Railroad Museum provides visitors with a train ride. The Museum of Science and Industry has flight simulators as part of their experience.

Can a museum ALSO be a theme park? Can a theme park ALSO be a museum?

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About Andrea

I am a museum educator at Kennesaw State University with my master's degree in Heritage Preservation. I taught fourth grade through middle school for several years prior to museum work. I live in Atlanta with my husband, dog and cat. I am a lover of travel, wine and good food on a (20-something budget!) so hopefully my blog will provide you with some of my travel tips that I learn along the way.
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One Response to Theme Park vs. Museum

  1. mekahawka says:

    We talked about this topic in my last class last semester on museum studies. I think it all has to do with the blockbuster themes now. Before museums were about limited audience of elite scholars learning about pieces of art or history . Now museums are about entertaining the public but also becoming a learning tool. I think you have to have some form of educating and entertaining people to get them interesting in history in a sense. I know this isn’t the case for everyone but for the majority I feel it is . I don’t have a problem with this until it becomes too showboaty and just bypasses history or art or whatever the exhibit subject or matter is and the focus is on the block buster show. I feel in any place people should walk away learning and absorbing something that enriches their lives .

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