Friday, June 23, 2023

Touching, not Touchable, Experiences

I was speaking with someone recently about my work and said I develop "interactive experiences and environments." To which they immediately responded, "Oh, so you make hands-on exhibits."

Well, yes and no.  Certainly many, if not most, of the things I help create involve tactile elements.

But there are some very compelling museum experiences that are never meant to be touched by visitors.

Optical illusions (like those shown throughout this post) are examples of "touching, not touchable" (TNT) experiences, that I would still characterize as "interactive."

"Touching" in the emotional reaction sense, and "Interactive" in the sense of "things influencing or having an effect on other things."

Other museum experiences I would place in the "touching, not touchable" category include dioramas, dollhouses, and similar miniature models and environments.  All these TNTs also tend to slow people down and reward them for careful observation. In the case of dioramas and dollhouses, visitors often mentally "step inside" those exhibits as they experience them.

I'd say any exhibit-driven museum experience (whether it's called "interactive" or not) that can get visitors to slow down, be rewarded for careful observation, and respond emotionally is just the type of thing I like to make for museums and like to experience inside museums myself.

What got me thinking about Optical Illusions, TNT, and Interactives in the first place is this super interesting (and interactive!) website called, "151 Visual Phenomena & Optical Illusions
with explanations"   Definitely worth checking out!

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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

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