A simple, polite sign* sits on a piece of furniture in a museum or gallery. It nicely asks you not to touch the items. It is cautionary by nature, unthreatening in appeal. Still, people disregard its humble request. Maybe it’s OK to touch that chair, desk, piece of paper, glass bowl, or book! Maybe the sign is meant for other people. Maybe they shouldn’t touch these things.
On a weekly basis I volunteer at two Jane Austen sites, and most days people do not touch the aforementioned items. This past week, I had to ask multiple people to not touch the 18th-century books, the glass art piece, Mr. Austen’s desk, and more. I had to ask people not to place their belongings on exhibit cases. I even had to ask a woman to get up from a piece of furniture upon which she had recently taken residence. I offered her a chair intended for visitors rather than having her sit on the 19th-century furniture. She said, “I know. I just wanted to see if it’s comfortable.” !!!
There’s a reason museums place ribbons and flowers on seats, and it’s not merely aesthetic. Such accoutrement are cousins to the “please do not sit” sign. They are prettier, passive ways of saying the same thing. They hope that you will know better than to sit on the prayer chair!
Maybe we need signs like this one in museums:
Maybe we need to play some M.C. Hammer every time someone dares to grab hold of that precious object on display to be seen, but not touched. 😀
*Note: none of the images in this blog are from CHL or JAHM. I am always too busy working to remember to take pictures of the signs! I have to watch the people, right?! 😀