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Category: Empathy

© Aude Vanlathem / www.audevan.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-2.5-CA

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 my thoughts on how incorporating these principles into museum practice could make museums more human-centered and empathetic institutions.

breaking-assumptions

Breaking assumptions with empathy

Over and over, one of the big lessons in design thinking seems to be don’t assume—discover directly. The insights gained from talking directly to users informs our understanding of their needs, which in turn makes all the difference between spinning one’s wheels and developing solutions that people can actually use. And prototyping and iterating along the way provide constant check-ins and mechanisms for adjustments.

Visitors at SFMOMA

How to interview visitors for empathy

This post is adapted from internal trainings I led at SFMOMA and a paper authored for the Museums and the Web conference. The power of doing empathy work with real visitors had a major impact on the internal SFMOMA team. The mere act of moving from abstracted discussions about “the public” to interactions with real, live museum visitors was incredibly powerful.