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?