Monday, July 23, 2007

Slow Down, You Tour Too Fast

Last summer I noticed that nearly every visitor to the museum would do the walk through in about 20 minutes. All my efforts to get them to stop a moment, have a cup of tea and a bun, or participate in some way, were met with a glance at their watch and "no, no, we have to get going...". While I tried not to take it personally, I did think I was doing something wrong--things were too subtle, or there were not enough three dimensional things in the livingroom. Or I thought there was the "museum behavior" issue in which people act as though they are in a museum (a regular museum not my house as museum), and so the idea of kicking off your shoes and settling in for tea was just too far to leap for most. So, I was thrilled when this year's project meant that there are engaging elements in every room. There are places for interaction everywhere, plus audio tours for the people who are uncomfortable with me hanging around them, even some wall text for those who feel the need to read about what they are seeing.

I had nipped the 20-minute tour problem in the bud.

And this year? Same darn thing! Twenty minutes in, and "no, no, we have to get going..." What the...? What about the videos? the audio tour? the chance to try rug hooking or spinning? the opportunity to get your family tree on the wall? the damn tea buns??? Why oh why will no one eat my tea buns?

After thinking it over, I have come to the conclusion that it is not all my fault. There is something about being a tourist, even if it is in your own hometown, that makes people breeze through places. People are always on their way to somewhere else and have "just stopped in" which translates to..."20 minutes and we are outta here".

I was discussing this situation with Marlene and she suggested we start a revolution, a slow tourism revolution, based on the ideas promoted by the Slow Food people. Of course, being local is a big part of Slow Food, but perhaps slow tourism, or should I say, Slow Tourism, could mean to go to one place and explore it slowly, on local transport or on foot, or bike. While you may be spewing large amounts of carbon to get to Newfoundland, once you are here, easy does it. Take your time, talk to people, hook a rug, draw a picture, eat a tea bun. Nice and slow.

Let the revolution begin!

No comments: