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About Us

The Science Museum has been developing interactive exhibits for a number of years and we have learnt many lessons along the way. Our process of developing exhibits has been refined by these lessons and has led to the development of a comprehensive schedule of techniques to ensure that every interactive exhibit meets it's objective to entertain and educate. This section outlines some aspects of this process and demonstrates important elements which are evident in each Science Museum interactive exhibit product.

Big Machine

The Big Machine, Launchpad.

Bubbles

Bubble Wall, Launchpad.

What is Audience Research?

The Science Museum’s Audience Research and Advocacy Group is a world-leading authority on evaluation. In 2009 it became a national function with the creation of additional teams joining at N.M.S.I’s northern sites at the National Railway Museum in York and the National Media Museum in Bradford. The overall aim of the team is to ensure that the Museum's exhibits, galleries and websites are appealing, accessible and educational for their target audience. Evaluation of exhibits is one way of helping the Museum achieve this goal.

We have consistently found that our audiences want experiences that are both fun and educational. In addition, visitors want to be inspired, they want to experience things which are different from things they can do at home and at school and they don’t like the mundane. The first stage of developing an interactive exhibit is to find out what our audiences want and need. This information is then fed into a proposal for an interactive exhibit, alongside its educational requirements and various other stringent technical and safety specifications.


Who do we work with?

The Science Museum enjoys the opportunity of working with many different developers and this allows for the most innovative and creative solutions to be sought. Positive collaborations create an exciting synergy which is evident in the Science Museum’s inventive outcomes.


What is Prototype Testing?

During the development of an exhibit, the Museum will ask fora series of prototypes to be evaluated. Evaluation is based on a pre-determined set of objectives and will be conducted with members of the target audience.

The aim of the prototype evaluation is to identify barriers to the visitor's use of and engagement with the exhibit in order to recommend and implement changes that will improve the exhibit for the target audience.


What is Robustness Testing?

In addition to a series of prototypes, the Museum will undertake a period of robustness testing on the finished exhibit. This takes place in a staff-monitored area before the new exhibit is officially unveiled. The purpose of robustness testing is to iron out any recurring weaknesses in the exhibit.


4 Simple rules

We have found that there are a common set of requirements for a successful interactive with four key specific outlining principles:

  • The goals, rules of engagement and feedback from the exhibit should be clear and unambiguous for the visitor
  • The exhibit challenge should be well matched to the skill of the visitor
  • An exhibit should take into account visitors’ prior knowledge and experience
  • The visitor should be encouraged to feel curiosity, confidence and in control of the process.

Want more?

Our product ranges are by no means an exhaustive reflection of the Science Museums interactive materials. If you are interested in a particular aspect of the Science Museum interactive works, please make an enquiry.

Contact Us

If you’d like to find out more about a specific product, or to see how the Science Museum could work with your organisation email our Commercial Development team at scm.interactive@sciencemuseum.org.uk.