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Visitor-Centered Exhibition Design: A paradigm Shift for Art Museums

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With the aim of becoming a more visitor-centered institution, the Indianapolis Museum of Art has implemented a new team-based collaborative exhibition development process that seeks visitor input throughout various stages of development. While this approach is not uncommon in other cultural institutions, particularly children’s museums and science and history centers, it is a significant shift for art museums. This presentation will describe different ways of involving visitors in the exhibition development process. It will also provide examples of how exhibitions have changed as a result of this process and ultimately give an overview of the outcomes that we have achieved in terms of visitor satisfaction and communication of key messages.

Published in: Education

Visitor-Centered Exhibition Design: A paradigm Shift for Art Museums

  1. 1. Visitor-Centered Exhibition Design: A paradigm Shift for Art Museums Silvia Filippini-Fantoni @silviaff20 @imamuseum Director of Interpretation, Media, and Evaluation
  2. 2. The Collection
  3. 3. User-centred Approach Visitor-Centered Approach
  4. 4. Process: • New exhibition development process Participation: • Participatory in-gallery experiences Programming: • Innovative participatory and experiential programs Visitor-oriented approach
  5. 5. New Exhibition Development Model
  6. 6. •Non-Art Museums •Detroit Institute of Art •Oakland Museum of California •Denver Art Museum •Brooklyn Museum Inspiration
  7. 7. Old Model: all decisions were made by curators New Model: interdisciplinary core team is created at the start and makes all decisions. It includes: • curator • interpretation specialist • evaluator • designer • exhibition manager Curator Layout Content Idea Checklist Other Inter. tools Public Programs Old Model New Model
  8. 8. Big idea: the core team identifies the main thesis and learning outcomes These are used to inform: • Checklist • Layout • Title • Interpretive plan • Content • Evaluation
  9. 9. Testing: incorporate testing and evaluation throughout the process Research and Evaluation team: • Manager • 1 part-time staff • 3 or 4 data collectors • 1 or 2 contractors
  10. 10. Rome wasn’t build in a day! New director
  11. 11. Methods
  12. 12. n=576 21% 21% 27% 31% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Art Deco Automobiles Duesenbergs Automobile Masterpieces Concept Cars Front-End: Automobile Design
  13. 13. Formative: Gustave Baumann
  14. 14. Design Thinking Workshop
  15. 15. Prototype Testing
  16. 16. Visual Identity Testing Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
  17. 17. Title Testing Paintings in the Round • Round room (12) • Round objects (8) • Paintings of round objects (7) • Music round (5) • Circular paintings, round canvas (4) • Architecture (2) • Theatre (2) • Abstract/Geometric Art (3) • Panorama (2) • Other (5) On the Flipside: Secrets on the Back of Paintings
  18. 18. Remedial Evaluation: Dream Cars
  19. 19. Summative: Exhibition Evaluations • Have learning outcomes been met? • Are visitors satisfied with their experience? • How do they engage with the art and interpretive tools? • What problems do visitors encounter? • Who visited the exhibition (demographics & psychographics)?
  20. 20. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 %UsageofExhibitionElements Gallery # Extended Labels Simple Labels Artworks Observations
  21. 21. Results
  22. 22. Before
  23. 23. After
  24. 24. Less Text More Visuals
  25. 25. Experiment with Text
  26. 26. Multisensory experiences
  27. 27. Provide More Active Experiences Old Method Engagement Framework
  28. 28. Multiple Platforms
  29. 29. Personal Connections
  30. 30. Stimulate Creativity
  31. 31. Higher Visitors’ Satisfaction
  32. 32. BEAUTY & BELIEF AI WEIWEI INDIANA FACE TO FACE O’KEEFFE Learning Outcome 1 73% 87% 97% 93% 90% Learning Outcome 2 67% 77% 86% 83% 80% Learning Outcome 3 67% 53% 79% 63% 57% Learning Outcome 4 60% 47% 79% 50% 57% Learning Outcome 5 47% 40% 62% 37% 53% Learning Outcome 6 40% 40% 34% 33% 33% Learning Outcome 7 30% 30% 24% 20% 30% Learning Outcome 8 23% 27% Old Model New Model Better Communication of Key Messages
  33. 33. Higher Usage of Interpretative Tools 30-50% 40-60% 46%60%
  34. 34. Successful Participatory Projects 40% 60%24% 23%
  35. 35. Challenges
  36. 36. • Resistance mostly from curatorial staff • Resistance from other institutions • Process is more time- consuming (planning is two years out) • Process is more contentious (Who directs the process? Conflict vs. Creativity)
  37. 37. Next Steps•Involve designers and curators more frequently in the testing process •Implement strategies to help members of the core team work better together. •Extend the model to permanent collection and contemporary exhibitions •Understand consequences of new admission model
  38. 38. Questions? sfantoni@imamuseum.org @silviaff20

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