Designing Museum Exhibits with the Visitor Experience in Mind

How do you want the people who visit your museum to feel?

Inspired? Intellectually stimulated? Captivated? The museum visitor experience can be a powerful tool for sharing knowledge and creating lasting positive impressions. It can also spark conversations with their friends and family or on social media, which can ultimately bring even more people to your door. While the recipe for museum exhibit designs that create amazing visitor experiences involves a number of ingredients, even small changes can make a big difference. Read on for some clever things you can do to produce guaranteed ‘aha moments’ for everyone who enters your facility.

Designing Museum Exhibits with the Visitor Experience in Mind

Who’s your audience and what are they looking for?

It’s important to identify who you’re currently attracting, who you’d like to attract, and even the audiences that aren’t profitable. Once your various audiences are determined, gaining a deeper insight into each one can be invaluable in creating an enthralling experience. Their characteristics, visiting patterns, needs, interests and motivations should be your guiding light. Many museums have successfully tackled this challenge by conducting comprehensive audits and analyses. Formal evaluations, visitor surveys, market research, visitor statistics, the number of group bookings, online inquiries, popularity of specific events, gift shop sales, and visitor observation can all be utilized. By combining this data, it can provide valuable audience insight to identify specific gaps in meeting the needs of particular audiences. Once established, a process for collecting ongoing feedback and research should be established so you can keep learning about your visitors and can continue to create appealing experiences that meet their expectations.

Take a walk in their shoes.

Put yourself in the mind of your visitors and examine your surroundings. Start at the point of arrival. As people make their initial approach to your venue, they’re forming their first impressions and may still be deciding whether or not to venture inside. Encourage them to enter by creating a warm welcome throughout all public areas, including the information desk, galleries, displays, temporary exhibitions, wayfinding, restrooms, dining, retail, and even seating for the weary. Ensure that every element of these public areas is accessible, clean, attractive and inviting. Make wayfinding a breeze by incorporating plenty of clear directional signage, maps, and friendly front-of-house staff. These improvements are relatively easy to make and can dramatically improve the physical environment and enhance visitor orientation.

Don’t overtell your story.

Your educational objectives are probably numerous. You may have many stories to tell, loads of information to deliver, and a limited amount of space in which to get it done. But the more you try to cram all of this content in, the more confusing it becomes for your visitors. They also have less opportunity to examine what’s on display, to formulate their own impressions, and to assess everything they’re seeing. Today, more and more people come to museums equipped with smart phones that allow them to Google any fact at any time. Do your exhibits really need to explain every detail? Think about what elements are necessary to create memorable experiences in the minds of your visitors and focus on incorporating them. Don’t be afraid to leave some creative space in your exhibitions.

Consider incorporating family friendly exhibits

Consider incorporating family-friendly events.

For many museums, families with young children represent a key audience. This lucrative demographic is always looking to find interesting, convenient places for family fun, so find ways to serve them. Whether you rent out space for birthday parties, arrange special themed events, or host regular activities to build a local following, you won’t be sorry. Events like these can increase loyalty with existing patrons and create free word-of-mouth marketing through recommendations among parents.

Make it interactive.

Do you remember rotary dial phones? If you’re never seen these relics of telephony, they’re far easier to understand and relate to when you have the opportunity to actually operate one. That’s true for many important inventions and historical artifacts. From colonial America to modern art, offering demonstrations, tech-based immersive tours, and/or 3D shows are sure-fire ways to create magical, memorable experiences that will resonate long after the visit is over.  

It pays to invest in audience engagement.

When visitors are treated to the best experience possible, the rewards for your museum can be significant. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so consider your audience and get creative with your ideas.

Adler Display has been helping art museums, history museums and other venues to deliver amazing brand experiences for more than 80 years. Is it time to improve the visitor engagement at your facility? Contact our friendly, knowledgeable professionals today.

About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at or call 855-552-3537.