Visiting museum or gallery just looked at the exhibit itself is no longer enough for audiences. As the world is changing to be more innovated, museum and gallery have to improve to fit in, making the exhibits look more exciting and giving audiences such a brand new experiences. This is why interaction design within musuem or gallery became a trend, providing audiences what they want to know and having the moment of “wow”.

Local Projects is a media design firm founded by Jake Barton, specialist of creating installation for museum, gallery, brands and public space.

Among the projects he has done, he pointed out 3 key points which are important for effective interaction design within a museum or gallery, which might be useful for those who are designing interaction design for museum (like me).

  1. Amplify people’s curiosity
    The interaction design is not the mainstay but to assist the exhibit, providing a new way for audiences to understand the artworks.

    Take Jake’s project for Cleveland Museum of Art as an example. He noted that looking at just the artwork itself might sound boring, as Cleveland is not located in tourist hub such as Prais or Toyko. Therefore, to attrack people visit the museum, they have to make the artiface look exciting and they used technology to fill up the white space around the artiface of museum, showing where the artiface was located rather than just putting the artiface at the middle of the museum.

    螢幕快照 2016-11-30 上午3.15.09.pngHe also noted that making connection between the artwork and people can stop people from being passive viewers. So that Local project developed a facial detection algorithm that matches visitors’ facial gestures to bring forward different artworks that contain the exact same expression.
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  2. Involve physical experience
    Jake mentioned Confucius’ wisdom: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember; I do and I understand,” which people learn new things by experiencing directly.

    Therefore, in order to engage people’s curiousity and make them understand, espcially children who are able to be concentrated on books is to let them experience.

    In the project of teaching middle-school learners physics, Jake connected physics, math and playground, children can choose different mats with different fiction to be used to slide with, and the data will be collected by the interactive Application, so that they can study inside such as how many heats generated or how the energy is transferred. It is always effective to learn in the entertainment.
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  3. Cater to people from all walks of life
    The target audiences of museum or gallery can be diverse, it is always a challenge for designers to cater to people from all walks of life with different ages and background information.

    And the National September 11 Memorial & Museum brought this challenge to Jake’s team. On one hand they are designing for children or adults who are barely known about the issue. On another hand, there are survivors who actually ran out from the building.

    In order to fulfill everyone’s needs, Jake team came up with the idea to provide a platform for the survivors to share their story of that day as the first person. So when visitors go to the museum, the first voice they will hear is not that of an historian or curator but another visitor telling you their 9/11 story.

In my opinion, I think what makes an exhibit or artiface interesting is not the object itself but people. Sometimes when people are not interesting in something then they just don’t, that is why interaction design is necessary nowadays to provide people a brand new preceptive or way to see the world.

However, interaction design is not only about how colourful the design is, how many information the application can provide or how the information is being order, the point is to let the audiences involve, to engage the audiences in the exhibit, making connection between the object and viewers and building relationship between, I guess this is the function of interaction design.

All photos are capped from the video of Jake Barton’s presentation at Design Indaba Conference 2014.
Jake Barton’s presentation at Design Indaba Conference 2014: