Wrangling these wave tanks really is a full time job, but we have making progress with our next round of prototyping this week.

The tsunami tank has had an interface face lift with updated kiosk software, and the technical issues we were having with the wave makers locking up seem to have been subdued (fingers crossed).


We were having issues with visitors throwing lego for building their tsunami-resilient structures all over the place, so I moved the lego storage actually on to the tank using clip-on cups.


I also decided to start using plastic sign holders to prototype signage actually on the tank. This way, I can switch out sign versions easily and more frequently if I need to. These are just simple slanted sign holders I clipped in to the edge of the tank table.


We also moved our prototype wave buoy closer to the wave energy tank, and Allison is in the process of making up some labels for it.



Right now I am working on overarching signs to tie the three tanks together, and create a more holistic wave laboratory exhibit. Here is the plan I have so far to help us work toward this.



There is lots to do this summer, but it’s great to get moving on our plans. The exhibit has become very popular in the visitor center, so I’m interested to see how the visitors and staff react to it as we prototype more of the signage pieces


While post-graduation job hunting, over the summer I am continuing to work on the wave tanks and their associated interpretive signage. After much time prototyping, the hope is to get the wave tanks looking more polished interpretation-wise over the summer

I have been creating a annotated panoramic plan of the wave lab area to start to tackle each tank and its signage. I seamed together images of each tank and have been annotating it with some of the signage ideas we have been brainstorming the last few months. The idea is to build into the tanks the overarching interpretive themes, which then feed into more specific themes per tank. The themes are really key here, as they help to frame the key ideas of the tanks and therefore what the main ideas presented in the signage will be.

Once I get this image completed, I’ll post some pictures. Feedback is always welcome!

Exhibits in museums, how does one go about deciding on what topic to “run with” when designing a new exhibit? Who has this privilege? How is this decided? Well after many years within the walls of museums, it seems to come down to the all mighty dollar – who is willing to pay for what and for how long. An interesting point was brought up the other day that I had not thought of about front end evaluation – if the topic is already decided, then front end evaluation is not really happening. If true front end evaluation was happening, then the topic would not already be decided until the potential audience were surveyed for topics of interest. I had not thought about this in a long time. There is a large amount of what is termed “front end” evaluation conducted on the various aspects of various exhibits prior to the onset of constructing the exhibit, but if this true front end?

When I worked at a science museum several years back they went under a major renovation and expansion. The areas for renovation and themes for new areas were decided in a variety of ways. First was a general survey of the staff. Next was a review of the grants available at that time and the third was personal choice of the direct of the museum. I do not recall one time surveying the general population about topics of interest. Some of the exhibits turned out amazing from an insider’s point of view and are well received by the public. Others are not bad, but leave a lot to be desired from both insiders and the public.

My personal favorite is the kids room renovation. This renovation took the longest and was based on research. The person in charge of this surveyed several other science museums and conducted a thorough literature review. In addition, she observed the interactions of families in kids rooms for hundreds of hours. The result is one of the best younger aged focused play areas for families I have seen to date.

So what are your thoughts? How would you begin to design a new exhibit at museum?