How to find your way around Experimentarium
Posted by Experimentarium on 23 Jan 2016
Sheena Laursen from Experimentarium, the science centre and RRI Tools Hub coordinator for Denmark, explains how to improve visitors navigation through the museum with a Responsible Research and Innovation perspective.
A small project with limited resources and a large task of working with dialogue and participatory process as the primary means to success.
Experimentarium is in the midst of renovating the old science centre building and re-designing the insides from scratch. The Navigation Project will help visitors to always find what they are looking for. In order to succeed with this we involve all stakeholders – first and foremost the visitors themselves.
We look to the city for inspiration. We want to create the same possibilities of finding your way around Experimentarium as you have in a city. Here follows a couple of examples.
How to find your way around and where to relax
Interviews with the guests gave us knowledge about how they structure a visit. Our guests are almost always groups, and a basic feature that we see is that the groups look around, split up and meet up again. Some members of the group are more active than others, which means that there will be a need for meeting places, which are easy to identify. And where you can also sit down and relax.
We have taken the idea of meeting places and areas to relax in from the city. A meeting place should be easy to describe with words and easy to spot – and an area to relax in should either be by a meeting place or close to an activity where you have contact with the rest of the group without necessarily participating in the activity.
Combined meeting place and relaxation place in Trento, Italy
Identity and clarity
From studies of our guests, we also know that there are two ways of experiencing Experimentarium. The exploratory and planned. The adventurous guests experience after desire and whim. They orient themselves by immediate impression. The planning guests form an overview based on parameters such as content, age, etc.
Most guests use both strategies during a visit. The key to supporting them is diversity and clarity. Just as a city has different neighbourhoods and distinctive buildings. Each thematic area should not only be able to have a clear identity, but also be clearly different from the other areas.
The key to optimizing these identities was to involve the designers who are responsible for the thematic areas. Through workshops and dialogue we could raise awareness and give a general overview. In addition, we worked to strengthen the borders of the thematic areas. In the city border lines are very important - for example, when going from the street onto the pavement or through the opening in the hedge into the garden - all to enhance the clarity of the different areas. Distinct border lines and different identities will support the visitors’ opportunity to know where they are. At the same time, it allows us to make a good map overview as a tool for our visitors - incidentally much asked for by our visitors.
Map of clearly different areas and distinct borders. A good tool for visitors
The interdisciplinary work is perhaps the most important. The entire organisation of Experimentarium is part of the visitor's experience of orientation. Right from the first visit to the website, arrival and purchase of the ticket to our daily communication. A broad selection of key personnel meet regularly during the process and along with the constant involvement of the visitors, we are able to quickly find the best solutions - and make the experience for our visitors as good as possible on a small budget.