Issues in video exhibit design : case studies from the National Museum of Natural History

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


To broaden their public outreach and advance their educational mission, museums are increasingly using videography within exhibits. Integrating new media into collections-based encyclopedic institutions like the National Museum of Natural History presents challenges to exhibit designers, filmmakers, and curators. Museum visitor studies address the related issue of visitor satisfaction and have become useful to assess specific techniques to bridge the gap between the public popularity and museum aims. The Smithsonian Institution has pioneered a theoretical framework to look at visitor experience preferences, now formalized into IPOP (Ideas, People, Objects, and Physical). IPOP argues that people naturally find one of these categories most appealing. Studies have shown that designing exhibits and video content within the IPOP framework will, in fact, increase visitor satisfaction and overall public education. This paper assesses the use of videography within three major National Museum of Natural History exhibits. At present, there is no unifying style or over-arching theoretical approach to the many video exhibits at the NMNH. I examine the relationship of these three films to the IPOP framework. I created my thesis film, Tree Thinking, to addresses IPOP categories that are presently underrepresented in the National Museum of Natural History.


Tree thinking is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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