Understanding the dialogue between museums and their visitors enables museums to subsist, undergo transformations and become consolidated as socially valued cultural venues. The Museo de La Plata (Argentina) was created in the late nineteenth century as a natural history museum, and this study shows that currently the museum is valued socially as a venue for family leisure and education, at which people make sense to the objects exhibited through characteristics conferred upon them by both the institution and the visitor. Nevertheless, such dialogue is somehow affected by the museographic proposal and the public interpretation of the institutional narrative, which could be analysed within the frame of contextual learning. As a consequence, the evolutionary idea that the museum aims to communicate is distorted by the public. This article highlights the importance of considering the visitors’ interpretations when planning museum exhibitions, a perspective that has been rather absent in the Argentinian museums.