Friday, October 23, 2009

Environmental Impact on Exhibit Experience

By Maria Mortati, Sr. Exhibit Developer

This week, I was back at the EMP (Experience Music Project). I loved the fact that I could get my hands on real gear and PLAY. 

For those that haven't visited, there is an entire zone of the museum where you can try your hand at guitars, drums, keyboards in open "pods". You can also go into sound isolation booths and "learn to play", and record.

While that was super fun, it felt a bit finished and sleek an environment for a me as a novice. The contrast between the environmental design and what I brought to the table was... dramatic. Sort of like asking me to sculpt in the white galleries of the MOMA next to a Donald Judd.

The people that created the exhibits developed cool, cutting edge, custom work. Their innovations span the visitor experience/informal learning all the way through to design and technology. They fundamentally moved the conversation ahead for all of us with their innovations.  Yet it wasn't the exhibit interactives that, err, set the tone.

My experience started with the city this baby was born in, and the immediate neighborhood it was sited in. The funder and subsequent starkitect formed the environmental capsule and set the tone. 

Those top level considerations had huge impact my resulting experience- and it's important to note that translates to impact on learning, repeat visitation, and many other things many of us are passionate about. 

In my ideal universe, we  have those conversations early on, so that's what drives the bus.

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