Planning Highs and Lows

Posted in Blog, Design, Process

In the beginning of this year The Alchemy of Design competed 2 planning projects for 2 very different clients with very different needs. One is a history museum which wants to tell its story via traditional means and high technology. It has a very traditional value of a museum with the desire to bring history and culture alive with hands on and partial immersion experiences.


The other is a place is where high technology is used as a matter of course in the science being done at the client’s facility. Interference of outside signals like cell phones or WIFI conflicts with the science being investigated. (Did you know back up cameras on your car are on WIFI? They are not wired anymore to send or receive a signal.) We were tasked with planning and preliminary design of the re worked building and new exhibits. This was a decidedly low technology to avoid interference.


It got me thinking about how messages are delivered in a museum or visitor center.  I’ve been to many museums where high tech was the way they went.  One museum is Hi Tech with some respite with large scale artifacts/ replicas. It was 5 stories of almost nonstop input. It’s overwhelming. There is too much to do and see and be in that the message is lost.


I was at an art opening recently the low-tech way the artists’ work engaged with a visitor was elegance, simple and very attainable for low budgets. At one exhibit an artist invited the visitor to lie down with VR glasses and audio. The messaging was varied from profound to combative to happy. A very simple way of engaging a visitor with accessible technology.


The audiences today need to be entertained to some extent. You want to create memorable experiences. Too often the message is over shadowed by the means and that design is not just a pretty picture. The overall reason for heightening awareness and stimulating via exhibits is to learn.