HOW MUSEUM EXHIBIT DESIGN INFLUENCES PERSONAS EXPERIENCE

Posted on 08/22/2022 | 5 minutes read

"Experience seekers desire a physical experience design more than anything else. As such, museums should focus on providing the best aesthetic experience for this group. Give them flyers that highlight must-sees within the museum and make sure they view what they came to view. This way, they're likely to recommend others as well."

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When did you last visit a museum? What was the experience? Museums receive many visitors, some of whom treasure their moments there, while others become bored as soon as they enter the premises.


We are all wired to enjoy experiences that align with our personalities and identities more than those that don't. Yet, as much as we derive experiences from our personas, part of museum experiences, good or bad, originate from the museum exhibit design.


This post looks at the different persona types, and how they influence one's museum experience.



WHAT IS A PERSONA?


Personas are imaginary profiles created for the sole intent of mimicking an actual audience or target market. Marketing teams use personas to understand how the target audience may react or relate to a particular product or service, a structural design or layout, different web interfaces or anything along that line.


Their aim is to design a product that caters to the needs of different demographics based on human characteristics such as thoughts, personality traits, behaviour, skills, lifestyles, interests, goals and motivations.


TYPES OF MUSEUM PERSONAS


In Falk's 2009 book, Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience, a survey showed that people's motivation for visiting a museum dictated their experiences. It also explained how individual motivations vary depending on the benefits one stands to get from each visit.


The following are five distinct personas that Falk insists museums must be aware of for the best experiences:



  • EXPLORERS: This group of people is mainly driven by curiosity. They show interest in almost every aspect of the museum as they have an affinity for learning new things. Their drive comes from the hope of finding something new.


  • FACILITATORS: They are fuelled by the desire to provide a platform for other people to learn new things. Most love to accompany others and are part of social groups.


  • PROFESSIONALS/HOBBYISTS: People who visit the museum for work-related reasons or as a passion. Their visits result from the need for specific content tied to a particular objective.


  • EXPERIENCE SEEKERS: Visitors are more concerned about visiting a museum to get it off their bucket list. They aim always to visit important destinations to say, "been there, done that."


  • RECHARGERS: This group frequents museums for emotional and mental restoration. They find museums the perfect place to take a day off from the world and immerse in deep thought.


UNDERSTANDING PERSONA OBJECTIVES IN A MUSEUM



The kind of experience each persona derives from a museum depends on whether their need was met during the visit. Therefore, museums must understand the different visitor identity objectives to create unique experiences for each of them, as outlined below:



EXPLORERS


Explorers frequent museums to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for discovering new things. They visit every nook and cranny of the museum-like wagging dogs expecting to find items that intrigue them. If an explorer doesn't see or learn something new upon each visit, they leave disappointed and are less likely to return.



FACILITATORS


These visitors come to museums to bring other people, not necessarily to enjoy themselves. Most of them feel obligated to impact the knowledge in museums to others and ensure everyone has a good time there. They mainly comprise parents, teachers, or individuals who love being part of a social group.



PROFESSIONALS


A group that only goes to museums to learn more about a specific exhibit related to their objective. They don't subscribe to the group mentality and are likely to attend workshops and seminars or engage with staff for information on their interests. Professionals will always refer colleagues to the museum if it's of help to them.



EXPERIENCE SEEKERS


Experience seekers don't visit the museum for a specific purpose, and neither do they frequent it regularly. Instead, most go to museums due to influence from social media or friends. They're only interested in the museum's highlights, especially gleaming objects, and are likely to refer others if their experience is worthwhile.



RECHARGERS


This group is often looking for an escape from the real world, even for a few hours. They derive peace and inspiration from the simplest of exhibits and get lost in their thoughts most of the time spent in a museum. Rechargers will never return if a museum doesn't offer the tranquillity they crave.


UNDERSTANDING PERSONA OBJECTIVES IN A MUSEUM


No one size fits all in museum exhibit design, as personas have different needs requiring addressing. Museums should take a holistic approach in their exhibition design to cater for all parties involved.


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For explorers, museums should ensure they improve on their exhibit collections from time to time. They should also have the necessary tools and technology to facilitate learning new things.


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Museums with interactive displays and rich history appeal more to facilitators who only want the best experience for the group. An acknowledgement for visiting also goes a long way in impressing a facilitator. As such, make sure to thank them for their visit.


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Professionals and hobbyists are more concerned with exhibits related to their specific objectives. Museums should offer specialized lectures and workshops for this group, as they crave personal interaction, especially with experts in their area of interest.


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Experience seekers desire a physical experience design more than anything else. As such, museums should focus on providing the best aesthetic experience for this group. Give them flyers that highlight must-sees within the museum and make sure they view what they came to view. This way, they're likely to recommend others as well.


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All rechargers crave is peace and quiet. So, designate particular areas in the museum with less lighting and traffic where they can get some alone time. If the museum receives many visitors, allocate specific days with lesser crowds.



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ABOUT ARC & CO. DESIGN COLLECTIVE


Arc & Co. Design Collective transforms your brand messages into engaging physical brand experiences that increase your brand's perceived value and loyalty with your customers. By utilizing our proprietary FOUR Dimensions Framework™, we strategize, conceptualize, innovate and design experiential packaging and brand activation spaces that will complement your business and keep you ahead of the competition.


Get in touch with us to discover how we can assist in integrating a physical brand experience into your marketing strategy.

TL ; DR NOTES

As you can see, understanding museum personas is crucial to creating a museum exhibit design for the best experience. Remember:


Personas are a close reflection of human behaviour



Personas remove the guesswork out of designing the ideal museum experience



Each persona has its motivation, so you must find the right one for your audience



Be versatile, as no one museum design will fit all personas

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