Imagine Children's Museum
10/2019 - 12/2019
Re-Imagining museum experience through working with staff and visitors to conceptualize the future of the museum experience
Our team partnered with Imagine Children's Museum in Everett, Washington, to co-design a museum and digital enchantment for museum visitors by improving the overall museum experience, including a navigation system (on-site and off-site). We want to ensure that the visitors get the best experience possible and encourage parents to interact with their children during the visit with the concept of "learn through play.
Additionally, we are interested in how Interactive Media Design extends to “analog” spaces. The Imagine Children’s Museum allowed us to look at how to bring technology and innovation into the room in mindful and specific ways. This vision was spurred on by Teddy Dillingham, who reached out to Dr. Chen to work on this project to create an extended experiential learning environment for visitors to the museum.
Who is Imagine Children's Museum?
Imagine Children's Museum is a non-profit children's museum in Everett, Washington. Children can develop their social/ emotional, and cognitive skills at the museum through play. They promote the power of play - learning and growing by doing what children love to do and doing the best. Along with children playing and exploring chronologically, parents are encouraged to role-play, explore, experiment, and create together.
What is the experience of a visitor to the Imagine Children's Museum?
Research Planning & Timeline
Click the pdf file to learn more about the research process
Primary & Secondary
5 Site Visits
45 Pages of field notes
People, Behavior, Emotion
Adult vs. Museum
After codifying the data that was collected from the research process, we created five personas that we believe are the types of parents that would visit the Imagine Children's Museum. However, to narrow down the scope, Immersed Ina and frequent Frances are chosen because they are the most frequent visitors that the museum is likely to encounter: 1) Unengaged parents that encourage children to play on their own 2) Parents love to be involved in children's activities. Hence, with the help of these personas, we can empathize with the visitors to understand their pain points, motivations, and needs to better improve the experience.
During the kick-off meeting with Teddy (the Director of Education for the Imagine Children’s Museum), she proposed the idea of creating an app where visitors can easily navigate throughout the museum as well as providing an extended experiential learning environment for visitors to the museum. To validate this assumption, our team did a field study research/surveys and found out the true area of problems that the visitors are experiencing during the visit.
In the design process, our designers have the museum's values in mind "parents are encouraged to engage in children's play". I was in charge of the digital experience with the other two members of the team and suggested that the app should only be an assistive digital resource where parents can have access to find out current/future events and admission, etc rather than a distraction.
Besides the digital experience, there were opportunities in improving the museum experience. In truth, physical experience is what's most important to the visitors. After the research process, with the museum's budgeting in mind, our team believes investing in a kiosk would assist with a pain point felt by the museum and its visitors regarding event announcements and navigation.
Redesigned the signage throughout the museum by refining its existing design system to achieve sign cohesion as well as preventing confusion, and frustration to visitors to get to places they desired
Utilizing the technology to solve the problem of navigation isn't always the best and ideal solution, thus, we came up with the idea of floor labels to easily assist visitors to navigate throughout the museum. Most importantly, placing all the signage at spots where they are visible and findable is encouraged
In the end, we've presented the final concept designs that were data-driven to the Imagine Children's Museum: Physical and digital experience. Our team was dedicated to crafting a better museum experience for the visitors, to address their pain points during the visit as well as the pain points felt by the staff. Although there were problems that can be solved by technologies, we saw opportunities in the museum space that can be improved simply by maintaining the consistency in its existing design system for signages and labels to help visitors easily navigate from point A to point B. Another enhancement is to be achieved digitally by an app that serves as a tool to find additional resources and information about the museum. To prevent proposing other distractions to parents while visiting, we've minimalized necessary information but enough to that provides insightful and useful information within the app.
The next steps for the museum are to examine the design concepts and see how they fit with the museum’s goals. With the museum expanding, these design concepts represent an opportunity to revamp the existing systems within the museum and continue to make the museum experience better. Some of these ideas require hiring a developer or design firm to fully realize. That being said, the museum should conduct more research with its visitors surrounding the ideas presented. This can look at the following ways:
1.Conducting a survey presenting the ideas, and asking for visitors to imagine their effect
2. Installing low-cost prototypes of the signage, wayfinding stickers, and central hub and conduct surveys for visitor feedback
3. Showing visitors the app prototype screen and asking visitors if their needs are being met by the current app feature suggestions