Museum Attraction……Say what? Just what is a Museum Attraction? That is the question that ran through my mind in 2006 when I knocked on the door of the construction trailer to introduce myself to the group in Branson when the Titanic Museum Attraction was being constructed. Of course I knew about museums, been to them all my life, beautiful buildings filled with gargantuan works of art, sculptures and paintings created by Old World Masters, or perhaps cut away displays of miniature Inca villages, suits of medieval armor, you know what I speak of. Attraction, well Attractions meant combo complexes of arcades, rides, go-cart racing, put put golf courses, or any number of amusements. But a venue that combined Museum and Attraction.
I soon learned that the Titanic Museum Attractions in both Branson and Pigeon Forge offer the world class displays, and educational value of the finest museums the world has to offer, but they also contribute an entertainment value that allows the guest to enjoy a museum by becoming personally involved with interactive displays, in the moment experiences, special events hosted throughout the year, employees that bring the guest into the moment of 1912 with costume, information, and sometimes great acting moments.
This is not altogether a brand new concept however. Last week we spoke of turn of the century amusements. People throughout time have sought out entertainment.
Movies, television, internet, all relatively new diversions, before that the live stage theatre was the rage. Unless it was the Concert Hall where a person could enjoy symphony orchestras and opera, Music Halls, and Show Palaces, for the polite or religious set might feel uncomfortable. Vaudeville troupes traveled the United States and set up shop in store fronts, tents, saloons, and many places that “ladies and gentlemen” felt was too bawdy a venue to attend. The “museum” circuit was developed to allow your everyday theatre seeker an excuse to see the acts of the day, this way they would feel culturally enhanced by attending a “museum”, expanding the mind while at the same time, they would retreat to a small room in the museum to attend a Vaudeville performance. These were usually small acts, but of a higher quality then what you might find down the lane at the “bawdy house”. All were happy, one was able to enjoy what the various museums had to offer, and receive the added bonus of a magical show at the same time. Back in the 1860’s there were museum of all sorts, especially in the big cities, displaying “oddities” and “curiosities” from all over the globe. P.T. Barnum was a master of combining a “Museum” along with his famous performers with his theatrical presentations. Bridgeport, Connecticut was the home to P.T. Barnum’s Museum and later took his act on the road with America’s largest traveling circus. One of his dearest and most popular performers was General Tom Thumb; he boasted Jumbo the World’s largest elephant, not to mention Circus Acts from around the World.
So you see the title Museum Attraction makes all the sense in the world. I can’t tell you the number of times guests have asked before entering the museum if they should worry about getting wet, or will they get sea sick, are there bathrooms.
No to the first two inquiries, yes to the bathrooms, and yes to enjoying an experience that is cultural, educational and entertaining. Coming from a Music Hall background and then later American Vaudeville, I personally am proud of the connection between Museum and Vaudeville Show…..come aboard, “Let Us Entertain You”. After all, “That’s Show Biz!” And no, we will not quote P.T. Barnum when he stated, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” At our Titanic Museum Attractions we exhibit nothing but the truth, but we like to think we do so with style.
First Class Maid Jaynee