I have noticed in my visits to sites that a quality interpretive presentation has the power to override elements of an experience that are not quite so good. A relevant example: A quality presentation can overcome a dreadful script in museum theatre. Several years ago I conducted an evaluation of an exhibition at the Hershey Museum to assess visitors' reactions to their visit. One element was a recreation of a 1930s tour of the factory. I had read the script before I went to Hershey, and it was without a doubt one of the most dreadful scripts I have read. When I saw it performed, however, the actress was so charming, so charismatic, that she overcame the script and mesmerized the audiences. When I analyzed the data, I discovered that the performance was indeed the favorite part of the experience for visitors, and that visitors who saw the performance learned much more than those who did not.
On the other hand, who among us has not been on an historic house tour, with a guide that droned on and on, making us want to flee in desperation an incredibly boring experience. Even thought the house itself may be beautiful, with high quality objects, the lack of quality of the tour guide presentation can override the rest.
Much of this appreciation of quality lies in our appreciation of beauty -- our pleasure in a thing that is well done or constructed. I saw a talk recently on Ted.com by Denis Dutton on the evolutionary basis of appreciation of beauty (see: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty -- video here; transcript here.) In his talk, which itself is a thing of quality with the addition of animation by Andrew Park, Dutton discusses the beauty of skilled performances:
...one fundamental trait of the ancestral personality persists in our aesthetic cravings: the beauty we find in skilled performances. From Lascaux to the Louvre to Carnegie Hall, human beings have a permanent innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts. We find beauty in something done well.So it is -- when we see or experience something well done, something of beauty, we enjoy it, we like it, we want to experience it again.
And here is my wish for you:
May your New Year bring you quality in all your endeavors!