The Importance of Experience

Appleton Museum of Art Curator of Exhibitions Patricia Tomlinson talks about going beyond just seeing art and moving toward experiencing art. Tomlinson, a former professional archaeologist, joined the Appleton in 2016 after serving as curatorial staff in the New World Department at the Denver Art Museum.

Long ago it was common for wealthy, well-traveled individuals to create a “cabinet of curiosities” in their homes to both learn more about far-off plant, insect and animal species and to support research by exposing these collections to invited scholars. It is thought that these collections gave rise to museums, in order to offer that experience to all, not just a select few. Early museums, however, left a lot to be desired in terms of spreading knowledge. For example, the first museums had no labels to identify any of the things on display, and a person could certainly look and be amazed at what they saw, but go no further in terms of actual education.

Since those early days, museums have come a long way in both educating and delighting visitors. We have seen the rise of basic object labels, which tell the viewer the “who, what, when” of the artwork, in addition to what we call “extended labels” that give more in-depth information about not only the artwork, but the artist, too.

Nowadays, most museums, including the Appleton, create additional programming to further enhance visitor experiences and allow them to learn more about a given subject. The concerts, gallery talks, culinary and other events that we produce at the Appleton help create a multisensory experience that adds to overall experience.

Additionally, different events and programs can appeal to a person’s specific interests; if someone is interested in cuisine and fine wine, a culinary event may draw them into a museum when they might not ordinarily visit. Art classes are also a terrific way to appeal to both adults and children and it is common for museums to offer classes themed to temporary exhibitions, permanent collections, time of year and different holidays.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most beloved ways to bring people together is music and if there’s one thing I’ve learned living here it’s that Ocalans love their live music. That’s why the Appleton hosts concerts in the intimate setting of our auditorium. For our exhibition on the history of Flamenco dance and music, we are honored to have the renowned Maharajah Flamenco Trio visit on March 26th to perform traditional and nouveau flamenco music. The trio, which was the brainchild of master guitarist Silviu Ciulei, was the featured artist at the Southern Guitar Festival in Columbia, South Carolina and has performed on National Public Radio and television.

We invite you to experience all that the Appleton has to offer and look forward to hosting you at one of our engaging experiences soon.

Visit for more information.

Appleton Museum of Art
4333 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala (352) 291-4455

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