Monday, September 3, 2012

Review of the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition at “The Eye” in Amsterdam by Andrew Martin

On Thursday August 30th, I attended the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at “The Eye” museum in Amsterdam with Brandon Ly and ZiXiang Zhang.  Prior to my attendance, I didn’t even know who Stanley Kubrick was other than hearing from my classmates that he was the movie director behind “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a famous movie I had heard of before but never watched.  I believe that “The Eye” museum had two primary goals: to educate the visitor about Stanley Kubrick, and to do so in a pleasurable way.  For the sake of brevity, with this review I will focus on the museum’s goal of providing the visitor with a pleasurable experience, separate from the content of the exhibit.  I will merely focus on the layout of the museum, and the interaction with its employees. 
            I’ll preface this analysis of the exhibit’s customer experience by first saying that I really enjoyed the exhibit.  I believe that the museum accomplished its goal of educating the visitor about Stanley Kubrick and his work - enough to pique visitors’ interest.  I came in to the exhibit with zero prior knowledge of Kubrick or his work; I left the exhibit wanting to watch about seven of his movies, all in different genres.  I left with a great respect for Kubrick as an artist and movie director, and an understanding of how he helped push the boundaries of the medium for half of a century from 1950-1999.
            Overall, I believe that the exhibit director provided a very pleasurable experience for its visitors, but there were clear ways in which he could improve the customer experience.  I’ll break my analysis down into two sections: the physical layout of the museum, and the employees’ interactions with customers. 
            The museum itself is located in a prime location in Amsterdam, directly across the river behind the Amsterdam Centraal train station.  It is a beautiful modern building with a large tower and a massive poster that can be read from Amsterdam Centraal, a great advertising ploy for passing tourists.  It is very clear how to get to the museum, as you can just board on any of the ferries that leave every five minutes.  The ride takes you to within a couple thousand feet of the museum.  
After entering and buying a ticket, it becomes very confusing to find the actual exhibit.  Our group spent ten minutes aimlessly searching the ground level for the entrance; misguidedly believing it was one of the three theaters on that floor (which were all chained off).   It would have been greatly helpful to find a simple sign, or to have the cashier tell us where the exhibit started. 
            The exhibit itself is organized chronologically by each movie Kubrick directed, starting with a small space introducing his life and career.  As you walk through the exhibit, large walls, open on both sides, separate each movie.  This allows for multiple paths to follow to the subsequent movie.  However, it was not clear to visitors that this was how the exhibit was organized.   It would have been helpful to have the layout listed in the first room, or in the exhibit program handout.  Larger “rooms” were dedicated to Kubrick’s later and more famous movies.  This was a good decision because more people tend to congregate around films they are familiar with, such as “2001,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “The Shining. “
            Each movie section is focused primarily around a large projector screen that plays five-minute clips of the iconic scenes from each movie.  This is a terrific decision, as you cannot get more of a feel for Kubrick’s work than actually watching some of his best clips, such as the murder and suicide scene from the Vietnam movie “Full Metal Jacket.”  The rest of each section complements the onscreen video clips. Entering each section, one finds large print on the wall with the movie title, the year it was made, and a succinct quote from Kubrick about the principal theme of the movie.  This helps provide enough initial context for the unfamiliar visitor to begin watching the scenes, and to provide the visitor with a frame of reference to make a deeper analysis.  Throughout each movie’s room, there are sculptures and other artifacts related to the movie’s production, such as his director’s chair, a sculpture of the baby from “2001,” pictures of actors, and other short video clips of interviews with the actors and directors.  Also, the subdued, minimal lighting help focus the visitors on the movie clips.  Overall, the layout of the exhibit was a thoughtful and well-designed way to showcase Kubrick’s art, and it helped to frame the visitor’s thoughts.
            While the layout of the exhibit was superb, the customer experience with the museum’s employees could have definitely been improved in order to provide a pleasurable experience for the visitor.   When you first walk in, you immediately arrive at the cashier’s desk where you can buy your ticket.  While she was friendly in her speech, she was distant in her body language – no smiling or eye contact.  She appeared as if she was not happy with her job and just wanted to leave.  She also did not offer us programs or information sheets about the exhibit, even though they were sitting right next to her, until Brandon finally asked for one as we were leaving. While searching for the exhibit we came across some other employees standing around and talking to each other.  We obviously looked very confused with our tickets in hand walking in places we should not have been, yet they just stared at us, never offering us any help.  Once we finally made our way to the exhibit, employees at the entrance checking tickets greeted us.  They were friendly, and they even offered to let us leave our oversized backpacks with them at the entrance.  This was a very pleasant way to begin our experience with Stanley Kubrick’s exhibit and it would have been ideal for all employees to exhibit this level of attentiveness.  Lastly, the actual exhibit had several security people walking around.  They were welcome and helped everyone to feel safe in the dark rooms, allowing us to focus on Kubrick’s work and not the strangers around us. 
            Considering everything about the customer’s experience, from the layout of the exhibit to the employees in the museum, the Stanley Kubrick exhibit was a very enjoyable experience.  Nearly all of the decisions made about the customer’s experience were the right ones, with only a few instances of employee behavior detracting from the experience.  However, I believe that the exhibit went above and beyond its goal of providing the visitor with a pleasurable experience because I left the museum not just a happy man, but also one who wanted to take proactive steps to experience many of the movies of a director whom I had never heard of before.  I would highly recommend the Stanley Kubrick exhibit to anyone who likes films of any style, as he was a director who worked in many genres - with something for everyone.  

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