Sunday, February 10, 2019

Are Exhibit Timelines So Boring Because of the Lines?



A while back I wrote a post asking for examples of interesting timelines in museum exhibitions.  Since then I've been wondering if the negative impressions so many visitors (and exhibit designers!) seem to have about timelines are actually a function of the flat, straight lines themselves.

Think about how daunting a seemingly endless line of jam-packed text and images seems when you are standing at the beginning point.  And now with the use of ever cheaper screens and digital storage devices, there is a proliferation of what one designer called "the promise of the infinite label" (as if that was a GOOD thing!)

So here are four different ways (with images) of rethinking, or replacing, the standard linear "encyclopedia pages on the wall" approach to exhibit timelines.



SPREAD OUT!

Instead of marching tons of text and images in a line across the wall, why not break the information into manageable chunks and spread it out around the space?

A hub-and-spoke approach to spreading out information.



Movable "thought bubble" units.
Provocation on one side visitor response on the other?

Spreading out information with a map motif.



LISTEN UP!

Could we engage other senses (like hearing) in information-dense exhibits?


Historic figures speak.


Listen Up! Text and sound.




LOOK UP!

How can we use all the space to have visitors look for information in unexpected ways and places?


Cubes -- look up and all around to approach text/images in non-linear ways.


Changing the space to change visitor expectations.


Look up -- and around!



EXCHANGE

Are there ways to exchange information by encouraging communication between visitors and the museum or interchange between visitors?  How can visitors change the information or the physical exhibit elements?


Exchanging information through flash drives.



Color-coded talk tubes to discuss different subjects?

Visitor-changeable low-tech data display


Hopefully, this ExhibiTricks post has given you some inspiration to scribble outside the (time)lines a bit.

Do you have some other ideas or images/links to share that don't follow the typical timeline?  Let us know in the "Comments" section below!






Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Museum Super Bowl Day?


Super Bowl Sunday will be a great day to visit your local museum --- because it will be even quieter than usual. 

Why are so many people, even folks who don't normally follow football, more rabidly enthusiastic about watching the "Big Game" or attending a local Super Bowl event, than visiting your museum?

Have you ever seen someone outside a museum scalping tickets to get inside?  

I'd say one possible answer lies in finding the difference between a "fan" and a "casual visitor."   Fans wear logo gear all year long and have no compunction in excitedly telling total strangers how great their team is.  The National Football league is, as recent news reports have detailed, even going after a traditionally neglected demographic, women 18 to 49, with great success.

So how can museums create more "fans" and expand their demographic reach as well?  

Places like The City Museum in St. Louis have set out to become a gathering spot for their local communities and have become open to all sorts of fun ideas that are edgy enough to attract a wide, and enthusiastic audience of repeat visitors who definitely become City Museum fans.

Of course all this talk of creating "museum fans" is pointless if your museum isn't really fan-worthy.  Is your admissions procedure torture?  Do you create core exhibits and attractions that are worth revisiting, or do you depend on the hucksterism of events that are only vaguely related to your museum's mission and purpose?  What are the obstacles that prevent your visitors from becoming fans?

Let's see if we can create more museum fans.   

GO MUSEUMS!




Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)