Joe Hines Makes Stuff
Designer + Maker
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Curio

 

CURIO

 

 

CURIO

Finding Relevance in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

 

 
 
 

PROJECT DETAILS_Curio is a system that allows museum visitors to curate their own museum experience. Through this experience, they will discover larger themes within the museum and learn about their own interests. The system will allow for a deeper connection with museum content, a more active visitor experience, and the generation of valuable data for museum staff.

 

TEAM_Joe Hines, Zach Bachiri, Katie Herzog, Mary Tsai

ROLE_Research, Concept, After Museum Experience

TIME FRAME_4 Weeks

METHODS_Sketch, Illustrator, Marvel, After Effects, Arduino Prototyping

 
 

 
 

How might visitors connect more personally with content at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History?

 
 
 

01. First, we discovered that museum visitors are not engaging as deeply with content in the museum as they could be. Traditional museum plaques present content in a static way, creating a passive relationship between viewer and information.    

02. Second, while content is grouped into exhibits and displays, the museum lacks a visible way to construct thematic narratives across exhibits. This makes it difficult for visitors to find meaning in their experience as a whole, and limits the museum’s ability to present new and diverse subject matter. 

03. And finally, there is room for greater dialogue between visitors and the museum. Currently, the transfer of information is primarily one-way, from the museum to the visitors without the opportunity for visitors to find their own voice. 

 

Concept Video

 
 

OBJECTIVES + IDEATION

With our design challenge in mind, we enumerated objectives for our intervention. These objectives served as the basis for our concept ideation, and will serve as guiding factors for evaluation upon implementation. Through generative design exercises, conversations with museum staff, and exploration of past precedents, we created a number of concepts to consider. 

 
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PROCESS TIMELINE

With our design challenge in mind, we enumerated objectives for our intervention. These objectives served as the basis for our concept ideation, and will serve as guiding factors for evaluation upon implementation. Through generative design exercises, conversations with museum staff, and exploration of past precedents, we created a number of concepts to consider. 

 
 
 

PRIMARY OBJECTIVES

01. Allow visitors to form a personal connection to museum content.

02. Facilitate the discovery of new objects.

03. Allow for both individual and group exploration.

04. Encourage reflection about oneself.

05. Allow for personalization/customization.

06. Integrate with the museum environment without creating physical or technological barriers.

 

SECONDARY OBJECTIVES

01. Encourage and allow for further exploration beyond the museum.

02. Draw connections between content in varying exhibits.

03. Direct visitors to new (previously unexplored) areas of the museum.

04. Generate valuable data for museum staff.

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POINTS OF INTERVENTION

To address our design objectives, we established four touchpoints which aimed to foster a more personal connection between visitors and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

 
 
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USER FLOW

CMNH Curate is a system that allows museum visitors to curate their own museum experience. Through this experience, they will discover larger themes within the museum and learn about their own interests. The system will allow for a deeper connection with museum content, a more active visitor experience, and the generation of valuable data for museum staff. Curate consists of four main touchpoints: a visitor tag, object plaques, a digital reflection wall, and a mobile web app.

 
 

THEMES

Four themes exist across the museum: anthropological, biological, geological, and anthropocentric. These themes are the context for the Curate system. All objects in the museum will be categorized with one or more of these themes.

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01. DISCOVER

Four themes exist across the museum: anthropological, biological, geological, and anthropocentric. Visitors can use their tag to “collect” objects that pique their interest. The tag will visualize this connection by displaying a collage of the colors of objects the visitor has collected, forming a type of personal profile. This visualization changes as the visitor collects more object, helping them identify other objects of potential interest.

 
 
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ADMISSION TAG

The initial process of designing a wearable object consisted of testing many iterations for form. We wanted to focus on an item that felt comfortable and unobtrusive to a typical museum visitor. We decided a pinnable tag would best achieve these goals. This tag would consist of a detachable component that the visitor would be using as an interactive collection tool to build their individual profile. 

We laser cut an encasement and tested different materials and aesthetic styles. We also created an LED Neopixel physical version that would be more true to the final form should Curate become a reality.

 
 

COLOR CHANGE

As a user collects objects throughout the museum, their tag will change color to reflect the new themes of the objects they collect. The tag color will act as a type of passive navigation tool for visitors, implying connections between their color profile and museum objects. This fuzzy exploration will help encourage discovery of new objects. 

 
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02. COLLECT

As visitors enter the museum, they encounter a series of updated plaques (some analogue and some digital). Each plaque contains an RFID contact, enabling visitors to “collect” individual objects or displays, adding them to their digital collection.  

Color-coded icons along the top of each plaque provide a visual indication of the themes represented in a particular display, allowing museum-goers to identify potential objects of interest at a glance.

 
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PLAQUE TYPOLOGIES

After observing the museum’s current exhibits, we developed a suite of 4 plaque typologies to accommodate existing displays. With the goal of minimizing both cost and impact to museum infrastructure, we included digital as well as analogue plaques. The smaller, analogue plaques and stickers were designed for minimal visual impact, while the larger, digital plaques are equipped to deliver multimedia content, allowing for deeper visitor engagement as well as flexibility in terms of material rotation. 

 

 

03. REFLECT

As visitors wrap up their visit, they return their tags at a reflection wall. Here, their visit is recapped through a deeper explanation of the themes presented and a review of the personalized collection they constructed. The wall also displays the most collected objects in the museum, visualizing the interests of the museum visitors that day.

 
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REFLECTION WALL

The upper part of the reflection wall is meant to act as a type of data visualization of the museum on any given day. By showing popular objects and a collective profile, visitors and staff can gain a broad understanding of the interests of the people around them.

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PERSONAL REFLECTION

At the lower level of interaction, visitors are prompted to reflect on their experience as they return their tags. They are walked through the reveal of the four themes, the theme they collected most, and a review of all the objects they collected. Through this reflection, visitors will hopefully learn something about their own interests and spark future inquiry.

 
 

TAKEAWAY STICKER

A takeaway sticker containing a QR code embedded in their color profile leads visitors to an after-museum online experience. The physical takeaway, as opposed to simply providing a link, acts as a memento and physical reminder to engage with the after-museum experience.

 

 

04. EXPAND

[my primary role]

Finally, before they leave, visitors are given a takeaway sticker with a QR code leading to an after-museum web experience. Here, they can revisit their curated collection and explore the museum archives through the lens of the personal profile they acquired as it relates to the four themes.

 
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Design Process

The design of the after museum experience moved from sketch to high fidelity over the course of a week and a half. In order to make informed design decisions we relied upon a user testing session and a visual design critique. The resulting iterations can be seen below.

 
 
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LOW FIDELITY MOCKUPS

Low fidelity mockups served as tools to define all of the possible interactions that could exist within the after museum experience. These mockups served as a basis for a more detailed wireframe flow which speaks to the system as a whole.

 
 

HIGH FIDELITY MOCKUPS

Moving into high fidelity was driven largely in part by the insights gained from prototyping and building the annotated lo-fi mockups. There was an emphasis on how could the web-app could allow visitors to reflect on their experiences and engage with new content based on their unique visitor profile

 
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Prototyping

Made with Marvel.

 
 

05. FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

If implemented, Curate creates opportunities for museum staff far beyond those presented above. Data gathered will generate insights that can aid staff in making more informed decisions and engaging with visitors in a deeper way. Marketing and curation efforts can be more responsive to visitor interest. 

 
 
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POPULAR OBJECTS

Staff will be able to see the exact number of times an object has been collected, and because objects will be categorized with the four themes enumerated above (Anthropological, Anthropocentric, Biological, Geological), staff will be able to identify the larger thematic interests of the museum’s visitor base. This data would aid staff in planning new exhibitions with a better understanding of the content visitors are likely to respond most to. 

 

PROFILE SIGNUPS

Curate will create a compelling reason for visitors to create email-based CMNH accounts. To save their after-museum profile and keep an ongoing collection, visitors must signup. These profiles will create a much larger set of users which whom the museum can engage.  

 

TARGETED MARKETING

With these profiles created, and the data associated with them, CMNH will be much more informed about individual visitors. This information can then be used for more intelligent, targeted marketing. Based on a visitor’s interests, a curated list of events can be generated and timed emails can be sent. Language of emails can even be tailored to meet the thematic interests of visitors.

 

 

 

 


 
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CONCEPT BOOK

A takeaway sticker containing a QR code embedded in their color profile leads visitors to an after-museum online experience. The physical takeaway, as opposed to simply providing a link, acts as a memento and physical reminder to engage with the after-museum experience.