By Maria Mortati, Sr. Exhibit Developer
Should a prototype exhibit or space in a museum feel as refined as possible, or like an experiment?
We've been working on this with a client who is starting to test out ideas (as well as themselves) through prototyping. The Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center merged last year, and while they are in development of their new facility, they have moved in together. They are smartly using this opportunity to test out new ideas, their relationship, and inviting the public in to participate.
One question that's come up is what should this look like? Does it want to look like a finished exhibit?
Our recommendation is that it is more inviting for visitors if it feels like a prototype- leave things unfinished (but safe) and loose. For example, print out graphics and clip them up, leave the walls bare white or unfinished. Clamp on lighting- you get the idea.
This creates an environment where both ends of the relationship can take risks and have permission to mess up and iterate.
Our experience is that the visitor will be more open to raw ideas presented if they come into it as an invitation into your experiment. They can feel like they are a part of the process at the museum. Which they are.
You can also invite them to come back and be a part of the testing and development as things progress. A great vehicle for repeat engagement.
We're excited to see how things progress, and we'll report back from time to time as things progress. This is going to be fun.