What museums learn from improv

What museums can learn from improv: three principles to make museums more human-centered and empathetic

In improvisational theater, there are some shared principles that the improvisers work from. These principles create a positive and supportive platform upon which the improvisers, or “players,” can do their best work. What if the principles that allow improvisers to thrive and excel could be applied to museums?

In this post, I consider three principles from improv theater and share thoughts on how incorporating these principles into museum practice could make museums more human-centered and empathetic institutions. Continue reading

Needfinding in the Galleries

Needfinding in the galleries: overcoming blind spots with direct observation

Museum professionals are faced with design decisions on an almost daily basis, from developing tour guidelines to building digital resources. In the routine of everyday work and with a lack of in-house visitor research staff, it is too easy to base design decisions solely on experience and precedent, and make choices based on assumptions and habit. But by conducting simple needfinding activities, such as direct visitor observations in the galleries, we can override our blind spots and arrive at new insights.

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Photo by @rosemarybeetle, all rights reserved

Design thinking at MuseumNext 2014: my five big takeaways

I recently returned from the MuseumNext conference in Newcastle, England, where I gave a talk, From Insights to Prototypes: How Museums can Use the Design Thinking Process to Engage and Delight Visitors and co-led a workshop (with Marco Mason) titled Designing for Happiness: Using Design Thinking to Delight Visitors.

In my talk and workshop, I shared five big takeaways on how to integrate design thinking mindsets into museum practice. Continue reading

Photo by Saskia Coulson

Discovering design in every nook and cranny: the V&A Museum Residency Programme

My PhD focuses on how we can use design research to consider residency programs for museums and unite design thinking with museum practices. In this post, I explain how museum residency programs can be used as a lens to think about the traditional and emerging frameworks of design. This is then explored through a recent example of research I conducted on the V&A Museum Residency Programme in London. Continue reading

getty_prototyping

Prototyping exhibition web pages at the Getty: designing for online and onsite visitor needs

In January 2014, a cross-departmental team of designers, producers, editors, curators, and senior staff at the Getty kicked off an intense two-week effort to redesign and re-engineer the Getty’s exhibition web pages. In this guest post, I will cover the process we followed, some of the key findings, and how the project is moving forward.  Continue reading

Image courtesy Molly Wilson

Design ≠ design thinking

When we confuse “design” and “design thinking,” everyone loses.

Designers get their backs up at the intimation that anybody can waltz in and call themselves a designer. Something that sounds unflatteringly like “get off my lawn” starts to creep in.

Design thinkers don’t look too good either. Compared to designers, they look like sloppy, fluffy trend riders. Or, worse, they look like process geeks who strip the creativity out of the design process.

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Jack Ludden of the J. Paul Getty Trust

Selling the benefits of design thinking to your organization

This guest post is from Jack Ludden, Head of the Web Group and New Media Development at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Jack and his team help the entire Getty organization better manage, transform and present content on a multitude of digital distribution channels. Jack is the past Chair of the American Alliance of Museums Media and Technology Professional Network, and currently the Vice Chair of all 22 American Alliance of Museums Professional Networks. Jack is the co-author of the forthcoming Museums and the Web paper, From Post-its to Processes: Using Prototypes to Find Solutions. Continue reading

improv-games4

Using improv games to warm up for user testing and prototyping: part 3 of 3

This is the third of three posts in which I share some of my favorite improv games to use with teams who are learning and using the design thinking process.

The first post covered improv games to kick-off a meeting or workshop, the second covered improv games for warming up for brainstorming and embracing failure, and this post considers improv games for warming up for user testing and prototyping. Continue reading