Exhibit Design reflections–Schlenk and Schrock

Reflection Notes from Schlenk and Schrock

The principles of proximity and inclusion as well as the principles of perception of unity seem to be a unifying theme in the evaluation of this art exhibit. It is perhaps most important to perceive the relationship between the artifact and the contextual material, with the goal in mind to promote a greater understanding of the artifact.

The textual elements discussed were of great interest. They are typically used on placards in museum, and recommendations included using large typeface of solid black on a white background. It was especially interesting in that the evaluators noted that the change in size/font could draw attention away from the rest of the text and should have a MEANING to it, not just be for decoration.

Some recommendations about text used in museums included that it should be: organized, accurate, and convey the information needed to understand the exhibit. The text elements should lead the visitor through in a logical order to understand the story of the artifact or exhibit without assuming too much pre-requisite knowledge. The use of icons was interesting and the recommendations that icons should only be used to enhance understanding and not be used for “fun” or graphic design needs was especially relevant. Ultimately the icons used should be congruent with the passage used in the text and work as a whole to enhance the visitor experience.

I thought it very interesting that they mentioned that the effect of humor in an instructional message is inherently unpredictable. Humor can be useful, but by the nature in which in engages the visitor away from the focus of the exhibit, it may not be a good choice for inclusion in instructional exhibitions.

I was particularly struck by how they defined “framing”, in that the pre-concepts most people have seem to influence their views about an exhibit, presentation, or artifact. Similarly, the use of “games” must match the cognitive processes and objectives with game goals as well as assess the prerequisite knowledge set of a typical visitor to determine how successful the visitor may be when playing the game. Too much esoteric frivolity detracts from the experience?

Finally, the idea of learner analysis and understanding the learner prior to design seemed to be crucial in museum planning. I especially like how the authors explained the concept of “task analysis” as having a thorough understanding of the task prior to attempting it. The recognition of “perceptual capacity” to insure that information is spaced so that the visitor is not overwhelmed by too much information at once is also quite relevant in many of my previous museum experiences. This article really piqued my interest in both instructional design principles and instructional development processes.

New Exhibits: guidelines as given in the reading: (Great stuff!)

1. Broad general goals guide development

2. Specific detailed, precise behavioral objectives

3. Formative evaluation utilized in development process

4. Mock-up stage for evaluation first

5. Evaluation/problems corrected in mock-up stage

6. After exhibit is setup–evaluate again

7. Gather information on the EDUCATIONAL success of the exhibit

8. Compare information to research-based instructional design scheme


*Insure that artifacts are selected to convey the objectives of the exhibit

*Instructional message design used to facilitate communication

*Strategies should be employed to insure that exhibits are accessible to every visitor regardless of age/height/disability/language, etc.

*Instructional message design should be mastered by all exhibit designers

*Instructional design principles should be part of ALL facets of museum education, including materials, workshops, programs, etc.


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