Top 10 Tips to Great Museum Exhibit Design

May 11, 2021
Image Credit: © baboon™ | Flickr
Image Credit: © baboon™ | Flickr

DESIGNING A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE

When it is a great experience, going to a museum can teach us, delight us and inspire us; however, a lot of effort goes into a museum exhibit design. As architects, we can learn a lot by understanding the ingredients that make such designs so successful. It is not as simple as you might think.

 

A museum is constantly looking for different ways to attract visitors, but what happens once they get there? Often they suffer from three main problems — they can’t find a specific piece of information, they must leave too soon because they are bored or they stay a long time but miss key lessons from the main exhibits. (1)

 

Obviously, visitor accessibility and attention are paramount, but that’s not all it takes to design for a great museum experience.

 

WHAT MUSEUMS MUST DO

The following is a diagram including 10 ingredients for successful museum exhibit design as adapted from a research paper by Dr. Saul Carliner. To learn more about these and other fascinating insights related to Museum Exhibit Design, please Click Here to see Dr Saul Carliner’s research paper entitled Lessons Learned from Museum Exhibit Design.

 

In the diagram below, you can see the 10 ingredients through “physical, intellectual, and emotional” (1) building blocks. This will help you to better understand how to heighten museum exhibit experience using each of the 10 ingredients.

 

Tips for Current Museum Exhibit Design Diagram. Image Credit: © Maria Lorena Lehman | MLL Atelier LLC

 

By taking a closer look at museum exhibit design — you will see such designers are able to tap into the senses as they choreograph different elements like narrative and interaction to spark visitor curiosity. As architectural technology progresses toward more dynamic and interactive solutions, you will have even more ways to give your occupants a “complete” experience. The 10 tips listed above are a good place to start for current museum designs. But do note that with emerging trends in interactive and adaptive technologies, it is becoming evermore possible to dynamically personalize museum exhibits for visitors.

 

BEYOND THE MUSEUM EXPERIENCE

The latter design tips apply to more than just museum experiences. Each taps into some common problems that many other architectural building-types face. As an architect, you should move your occupants “physically, intellectually and emotionally”. (1) It is important to give attention to how architectural design conveys information, whether the building be a school, home, store, museum, or other building type. By better understanding how people perceive and process such information, architectural design can work to make conveying a concept, idea, or teaching accessible to more people. This will help to make the architectural design successful, as it conveys deeper meaning through its forms.

 

Reference:

(1) Carliner, Saul. (2001) Modeling Information for Three-Dimensional Space: Lessons Learned from Museum Exhibit Design. Models, Processes, and Techniques of Information Design

About the author

Maria Lorena Lehman

Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary artist, designer, and author focusing on links between environmental design, science, emerging technologies, and human potential. Lehman is founder of MLL Atelier, an art-based architectural design research practice. Maria Lorena Lehman is author of the award-winning book entitled, Adaptive Sensory Environments. She is recipient of the Harvard University Digital Design Prize for the "most creative use of digital media in relation to the design professions". Lehman also creates sculptures and paintings described as "visual poetry of motion that is a new inspiration" by Daniel Smith, the company that creates watercolors for artists worldwide. Maria Lorena Lehman holds the degrees of Master in Design with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Architecture, Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech. She is internationally published and in numerous periodicals, including The Architect's Journal, Esquisses Magazine, Architect Magazine and Forbes.