What are the secret ingredients that go into making a museum exhibition, exciting, interesting, accessible, thought-provoking, yet still enjoyable for everyone from 2 to 102? Sorry if you fall outside these parameters.
If you have children and they both are under the age of 10 you soon realise how difficult it can be to visit a museum where everyone is kept happy for more than 30 minutes, before the parent hears the dreaded words, “I am bored”!
It’s not surprising we hear this so often in our children as so many museums produce exhibition designs which are full of really interesting information, but served up in such a boring old fashion way that no one bothers to read it.
I liken it to an old newspaper which is just black text all over the page compared to a glossy magazine with colour, imagery and funky styled text that creates eye-catching copy. This kind of interpretation really invites the visitor to learn something about what they are looking at or the subject matter. Then once bitten by the information they can delve in a little deeper and explore other snippets of information. I don’t mean this has to be done by expensive AV , touch screens or as everyone seems to going crazy for Apps this, Apps that.
The general public including most children over the age of 10 carry around in their pocket more technology in the form of smartphones than put the first man on the moon. So know one is impressed any more by touch screens or projected images on to a back drop, you will see visitors just wondering by. Now give them plethora of old mechanical button to push that actually makes something physically happen and you will keep the whole family occupied for hours. If a museums or exhibitions can spark people’s interest then with the use of the internet they can explore other layers of information in the comfort of their homes. This in turn will produce return visits and exploration of other museums as the desire for better understanding grows.
So we seem to have gone full circle on techy aids, or have we?
Well yes and no as we must now start to consider full immersive technology that gives the visitor the chance to submerge themselves completely in environments not possible to create before. Imagine standing on the battlefield in Napoleonic times and actually able to see Napoleon on horseback at the battle of Waterloo, turn your head and see the British moving into position. Then wave your hand and up comes facts about what you are seeing and the ability to virtually touch objects. Is it still a museum, yes but not as we recognise it. However it’s on its way, virtual reality surrounded by artefacts an immersive museum experience is the next big thing in museum design. Don’t believe me just ask your children which one they want to visit this weekend?
Next time – Top tips on how to produce great museum exhibition design whatever the budget.