Designing for Audience Participation within Museums: Operative Insights from “Everyday History”

By Sara Radice.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 2, 2014 $US5.00

Abstract: This paper aims at exploring the shifting from the role of museums as provider of contents and designer of experience, to the role of facilitator of experiences around contents, as the emergence of new patterns for culture transmission opened to new possibilities for participatory approaches in the design of heritage experiences.
Starting from the description of the participatory exhibit “Everyday History”, designed by the author at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, CA, United States, as part of her doctoral research, this paper outlines methods and tools for the design of effective participatory experiences, capable of catalyzing visitor voices in supporting and contributing to cultural experiences. This approach has the goal to change the traditional top down way of communicating to the visitors, in favor of a multidirectional flow of information between the cultural institutions and the audience. Insights from this case study and literature highlight that designing for participation, in which community engagement is the final outcome of the design process, does not necessarily implies—but does not exclude—participatory design processes. The author proposes a design methodology led by institutional staff, in which visitors are involved in recursive evaluation phases, conceiving the exhibition itself as an ongoing and never-finished product.

Keywords: Exhibit Design, Community, Design for Participation

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.77-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 2, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 422.157KB)).

Sara Radice

Ph.D Candidate, Design Department, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy


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