Visitor Research for Exhibit Planning

If you are seeking audience input for exhibit planning and design, you might be thinking about these concerns.

We’re planning an exhibition that has “issues” about visitor interests, expectations, misconceptions, etc.
We’re creating a traveling exhibition that we hope will be appealing to audiences at other types of sites.
We’re submitting a proposal to a foundation, seeking funding for an exhibition.
We’re looking for a good way to explain the difference between a ‘front end’ study, ‘formative’ evaluation, and ‘summative’ evaluation.

The most common types of visitor research studies for exhibit planning are Concept Planning (“front end”) Studies, Formative Evaluation / Storyline Testing, and Summative Evaluation (including remediation). Some of our projects for exhibit planning include:

Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center, Seward AK: Formative evaluation of proposed interactive exhibits (collaboration with Amaze Design, Boston MA)
Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA: evaluation of children’s and adults’ experience with the Children of Hangzhou exhibition
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe NM:  evaluation of visitors’ perceptions of The Red that Changed the World, an NEH-funded exhibition about cochineal dye – its origins, the international trade monopoly, how it changed European art, and contemporary uses
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Lynchburg VA: a series of visitor studies as input to a new Interpretive Master Plan (collaboration with 106 Group, interpretive planners)
Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia PA: a two-season visitor study to profile the visitor audience and assess interest in interpretive themes and future exhibit ideas, informing the master planning process
Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx Zoo, NY: 15 years after opening their award-winning exhibition, Congo Gorilla Forest, EGAD (the Exhibits and Graphic Arts Department) wanted to examine visitor experience to determine whether revisions would be warranted.