What works? Takeaways from HEDONISM

Posted 8 Jan

Claudia von der Borch

In with SEVEN SIBLINGS FROM THE FUTURE and out with our exhibition HEDONISM. But we haven’t forgotten about it just yet. Towards the end of HEDONISM we started investigations into how effective our exhibitions are and what you, our visitors are taking away from your visit. Exhibition evaluations provide us with the insight to reflect and implement changes for the future.

One of the ways to collect information is to ask. Over the period of a month we asked 153 visitors questions about three of our exhibits.

Another way is to watch. We observed 318 visitors interacting with the different elements of the exhibits.

Finally we had conversations. We ran focus groups, and we chatted to the researchers who were involved.

Question Time

We found out that visitors rate us pretty highly (right back at you 😉). A lot of very complimentary words were being thrown around like ‘entertaining’, ‘informative’, ‘interesting’ and ‘stimulated’. There was also some comments that indicate where we could make improvements.

We also wanted to know what visitors were taking away from HEDONISM. Did they learn something new? Did it change how they think about a subject? Were they interested in finding out more? About three quarters of visitors gave responses that indicated they connected with the main themes of an exhibit.

By asking visitors what was their favourite part of an exhibit and what they found most useful for understanding an exhibit theme our exhibition design can continuously improve. 

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

There is nothing nicer than seeing our visitors getting excited or engaged in an exhibition. One of our visitors stayed in one of our exhibits for 37 minutes!

Observational data shows us how you navigate an exhibition, what parts of the exhibit you engage with most and how long you like to spend in our spaces.

Two people stand in a large room. There is rubber gym matting on the floor and a tall black tower between them. The tower has many white dots that have flickered to display a task bar filled to 59%.
Photo: Grumpy Sailor

The Deep and Meaningful

This time round we held a few focus groups to chat through F.A.B.L.E., you might remember this alien consent exhibition? The narrative based format of this exhibit used to explore consent meant that we would get more information about the user experience from an open-ended chat than a survey.

Now the exhibit was wrapped up we also went back to our researchers to find out about their experience translating their research into an exhibition format.

These chats were insightful and encouraging, allowing us to reflect on our processes and hear about the positive impact our exhibits have had on visitors and collaborators.

Into the future

Exhibition evaluations tell us what we are doing right and what we could workshop some more. We want to make sure we are showcasing how research shapes our understanding of the world and that our visitors are leaving inspired. I’m going to spend some time running through the evaluation from three of our exhibits – Connect For, Training Ground, and Symbiosville – as this series continues. Keep your eyes out!

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