[MCN-L] Evaluation of computerized exhibitions

Morgan, Matt matt.morgan at metmuseum.org
Wed Jan 13 19:39:17 UTC 2010

Hanan, I've been thinking about this for a couple days being unsure what to write back. One reason is that you didn't say what your goals are, and any testing you do should be to verify that you achieved (or didn't) those goals. What is the impact you hope to make on visitors? 

The other reason is more technical. You state: "We will probably get statistical information from the system and this is not the problem." I'm afraid that it IS part of the problem. If you're testing in the wild, it's an uncontrolled setting and the results will often be more impacted by outside factors than by the application itself. Your stats may not mean much at all.

For example, if you want to test how long people linger in parts of the environment, that may be affected more by crowding and visitor flow than anything else. Or, if you want to test how many people do or don't use an object, that may be determined by its placement in the exhibition. I've seen digital kiosks in exhibitions where most people who sat down were just waiting for their friends to catch up. It doesn't mean they got nothing out of the experience, but neither does it mean that (more time spent or pages viewed) = (more visitor enjoyment).

So rather than strict testing, I recommend observation and pre- and post-experience surveys. A really interesting book to read for inspiration on observation, by the way, is Paco Underhill's "Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping."

Good luck,

-----Original Message-----
From: mcn-l-bounces at mcn.edu [mailto:mcn-l-bounces at mcn.edu] On Behalf Of Hanan Cohen
Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 5:09 AM
To: Museum Computer Network Listserv
Subject: [MCN-L] Evaluation of computerized exhibitions

Our museum takes part in a European project called My Ideal City
http://www.myidealcity.eu/project/ <http://www.myidealcity.eu/project/> 
In each of the museums taking part in the project there will be
computers that show a virtual reality realization of a city.
The visitors will stroll in this virtual reality environment and
interact with digital objects or other visitors.
We are responsible for evaluating in the project.
Since we haven't evaluated a networked/computerized exhibition until
now, we are looking for prior experience.
We will probably get statistical information from the system and this is
not the problem. The problem is trying to figure out before we start -
WHAT SHOULD WE ASK OURSELVES? What are the criteria that we would want
to test?
If you have any experience or know of museums that did such evaluation,
I would love to get a link or a reference to people we should contact.
Even if you don't have prior experience, any thoughts from the top of
your heads are most welcome.
Hanan Cohen
Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem
www.mada.org.il <http://www.mada.org.il>  - Facebook - Twitter - YouTube
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