Museums in India are constantly experimenting with new activities – workshops, lectures, clean-up campaigns, storytelling sessions and so much more to engage visitors. However, there’s a slight difference in planning for an audience and engaging a visitor. Audiences are often at the receiving end, whereas engagement can include them in the process of Museum curation, and planning. How can we tell whether our visitors loved an exhibit? ‘Feedback’ – but is that about it? How about asking visitors what they’d like to see? During the Visitor Survey we undertook, an important point that emerged was that Museum objects don’t have labels or galleries don’t have signages. In this post, Anne Morgan, Head Curator and Archivist at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum talks about her experience in using visitor-voices for developing signages and developing as many iterations as possible to get to ‘exactly what visitors want’.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in these past few years it is “iteration, iteration, iteration”. Did something work? How can it work better? What can you tweak to get more interaction? Did something not work? Why not? What can you change?
This week I designed the second generation of our test sign panels to see what people wanted in outdoor signage. I took all of the comments and feedback we received from visitors on the original roadrunner panels and made a set of panels that took these comments into account, while still asking visitors to think of what it was they liked in different signs.
Some comments were the same across the test signs: everyone liked the habitat range maps, the footprint examples (despite my bad artist’s rendition!), and some of the fun facts. While most people were leaning towards the flip signs by the end of the first test, it was still mixed enough that I decided to test both single panel and flip signs again to get a larger audience feedback.
The Heritage Lab is a digital platform connecting museums & citizens through campaigns, public-engagement programs & free access content for youth, families and kids.