Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Museum Design: aka how to have too much fun with floor plans

This week's assignment grew far bigger than  it probably should have. But it did lead to some fun conversations with visitors at work who wondered why I was furiously drawing and sketching floor plans.
I apologize for the weird formatting this week. Not sure what happened, but the spacing is seriously out of whack and if there are random symbols, I promise I did not mean for them to be there.
For my museums plans, I used the objects and general concept of First Person Arts as we know it, including the number of objects. The big differences: unlimited quantities of money and an altered theme statement.  I threw in some influences of my park interp training, and pulled some aspects of Interpretive Service Plans to organize the first step.

Step #1: Mission Statement, Take-Home Messages, and Storyline

Theme Statement: Objects serve practical functions in our lives. They also represent memories and feelings upon which we organize our homes, relationships and cultural understanding. Due to the meanings we find in and ascribe upon objects, each represents a story. 

Goals: What you hope to accomplish with the presentation
  • Present an understanding that we organize our lives with objects
  • To describe what purposes objects fill in our lives.
  • To inform people of the origins of every day objects
  • To gain a deeper understanding of our culture as one of materials and objects

Objectives: Measurable accomplishments
At the end of the program the visitor will be able to:
  • Name Three stories they heard
  • Identity two  modes of organization of objects
  • Explain the function and production of one of the objects and the importance there of.
  • Tell us about an object they organize their lives around 

    Step #2: "Galleries of Thought"/Step #3: Inventory & Facts

    So, with those goals and themes in mind, I separated the objects into spaces, or modes of organization: Objects of Home, Objects of Comfort, Objects of Memory and Objects of Adventure (in that order for a specific reason).  I am aware that these categories are extremely flexible but go with me here. The objects in these categories are:
    Home: Birth Certificate, Pan, Wall Hanging and Painting.
    Comfort: Tiger, Rhino, Shawl, Dolls
    Memory: sock, wedding ring, boxers, wedding ring
    Adventure: Passport, map, fishing license, pen.

    Steps #4: Motivate & Engage Visitors
    Main concerns for set up: Traffic Flow and access to objects and story at same time without too much reading. I did not want the objects to sit in a made up trying-hard-to-look-like home atmosphere, rather aspects that hinted at context without pretending they were there.
    Getting the Stories: Visitors get headphones at the front desk to listen to stories, with numbers at each object to prompt story. 
    Understanding the spaces: Longer text panel introduces the whole exhibit, giving people an object such as a hair brush or other ordinary thing to look at and asking them to think of what they do with it, where it sits in their house and then delving into a short discussion of the theme. Each room would have a short introductory panel.

    Step #5 Create the Look & Feel
    Engaging the objects: Each room has four objects and one more interactive experience, either something to touch (a sample of fabric from one of the objects), a short film about production of the object, or how people use it in other cultures. Each object would have a short description a la what we are doing (got to make us relevant in this experience). Each object would be on display in some sort of case that allows the visitor to see the object from all around. On the walls there would be pictures of the object in the context of its story potentially with its owner, then a picture of it in another context (manufacture, store, another culture) and proper signage. Visitors can more fully understand the origins, purpose AND emotional meaning of the object from the mixed approaches of visual, text, photos, and tactile interaction.  Visitors retain much more when they they observe and touch, than when they read and are spoken to.
    Engaging the Space: There would be plenty of places to sit (including a rocking chair in the 'home' section and a bean bag chair in the 'comfort' section). Other small things include obviously placed bathrooms and offices for the staff so they don't mutiny. If I was better with the program, I would have changed the colors of the rooms (Home: yellow, Comfort: beige, Memory: blue, Adventure: green) because people associate colors with feelings, places and objects. And making every room white is just boring. Lights would be of a lower, softer voltage, set on walls rather than the ceiling to avoid the feeling of being in a hospital.There would be a more interactive section at the end where people could share their own stories, react to other objects, try making objects. Revenue could be made off of a catalog, photos, or discs of the stories. Limited, straight forward merchandise.  
    And after wrestling with Floorplanner for a few hours, this is what I came up with for the set up of the museum. I have put a variety of objects in place of display cases (lamps, book cases) and info panels (screens) and it seems my walls have some trouble. 

    Not the best screen shot, but you get the point.  The squiggly things are intro panels. Imagine the square, round and multi colored things are varying types of display cases which can either hold just the object, or the object and pictures. The triangular objects would be more interactive displays with videos, touchable objects, other questions.
    Before class tomorrow I will include a mock up drawing of a display. However, technology is not cooperating at the moment and I wish to put this out before midnight.

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