Speculating Museum Futures through Interactions

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Duration: 6 weeks
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Project Brief

Apply human-centered design to build a future-oriented scenario that advances human interactions and experiences at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH). The design of your scenario should be driven by research (e.g., conversations with the CMNH staff and visitors) and grounded in an understanding of best practices when utilizing emerging technologies in the context of museums. 

Working in groups of four, you will benchmark examples and best practices and identify areas of opportunities and challenges in the current interactions at CMNH. It is recommended that you visit the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and/or Cleveland Museum of Art to experience their interactive collections and applications.

You will propose creative interventions, and your concept should result in at least two different types of artifacts (e.g., mobile, kiosk, web, physical computing, 2D/3D printed takeaway, immersive installation). For the final presentation, you will either show a video that effectively communicates your scenario, or provide a live demo of your interactive artifacts. It is critical to build a compelling narrative that weaves all your components together. You are expected to clearly articulate your process for identifying opportunities, iterating ideas and prototypes, and presenting the value propositions of each artifact.

 

Questions to Consider:

  • How might your concept be integrated within the existing infrastructures or programs at the museum?
  • What values do you see that your work would yield to the visitors, employees, and stakeholders?
  • What is your personal takeaway/learning?

 

Areas of Focus (Choose at least two):

  • Wayfinding
  • Information Browsing
  • Experiential Learning
  • Social Interaction 

 

Features/Resources to Consider:

  • Personalization (e.g., custom journey)
  • Online Virtual Archives/Digital Collections
  • Immersive Experience through Reality Technologies/Digital Projection Mapping
  • Tangible/Gestural Interaction

 

Learning Objectives

  • Conduct human-centric research to understand human behavior and cognitive perceptions in specific situations 
  • Make high-fidelity digital and/or physical artifacts/systems
  • Articulate the impact of your design from human and technological aspects
  • Iteratively evolve design concepts

Deliverables

  • Process Documentation on Medium/Notion
  • Live demo or High-fidelity Concept Video (MP4, less than 3 minutes)

Reflections

We began this project in 2017, assigned as one of three large projects in the Graduate Interaction Design Studio I. Each year since then, I have assigned and developed it with my co-instructors with slight modifications. Some years, the focus of the project was on specific technology: for example, exploring the integration of augmented/virtual reality in multimodal interactions. Other years, the focus was on a particular theme, such as the Anthropocene. 

The collaboration with CMNH in the previous years has been fruitful. The museum was a great context for physical/virtual collections, wayfinding, and event programming. More importantly, they were receptive to creative interventions. Through this collaboration, the students were able to observe visitors and get direct insights from their conversations with museum staff members. 

Many students expressed their appreciation for the open-endness of this project, and they deeply engaged themselves with research, production, and documentation of their work. We asked them to choose appropriate media for the materialization of their concepts, which encouraged them to either utilize their strongest skills or take the opportunity to learn new ones. This became one of the greatest merits of the course, as the cohort (i.e., our first-year master students) was encouraged to integrate their knowledge and experience in various backgrounds, including, architecture, engineering, graphic design, industrial design, interaction design, service design, user experience design, and much more. 

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