Open Exhibits Blog



How critical are workshops in promoting universal design within a museum?

Last year, the Museum of Science in Boston held a week-long set of workshops as part of a project to demonstrate how digital interactive museum exhibit devices can be designed and developed for visitors who have a wide range of disabilities. This NSF-funded proof-of-concept is now in the phase of determining how to disseminate techniques for designing universally-designed multimedia, and we’re reflecting on the necessary element to do so, including the workshops. You can find out more about the workshops here: /accessibility/cmme-workshop-part-2-developing-innovative-accessible-digital-interactives-2/7092/ and the formative report on the workshops is here:

The CMME workshops were a designed to help give individuals and ISE institutions the tools to make concrete changes in museum multimedia design practices.

To start institutions down the path of Universal Design, is a workshop like CMME (multi-institution, but hosted by one) the best route to go?

Knowing that exhibition design is not only “messy” in the words of one of the participants, but a process sometimes lasting years, how should an institution incorporate the elements of the CMME workshop within their overall design process?

Is there a mini-version of the workshop (a shortened version now that some shared universal design expertise and vocabulary has been developed) that could goes forward to create other needed universally designed elements for the Hall of Human Life or other exhibits?

During the workshop, one of the participants mentioned that this was somewhat backwards from the typical exhibit design process. Customarily, content is central. A museum first brings together all the content, and then tries to design creative strategies for engaging audiences with the content (hopefully in a deep, meaningful, and enjoyable fashion). Within the workshop this person commented that participants arrived at the design solutions in a manner semi-independent of the content as well as the plans for the rest of the exhibit. How does this relationship between content development and design influence when (and if) workshops on Universal Design are most effective in the exhibit design process?

by View all posts by Kate Haley Goldman on March 25, 2013