The design of Museum and Exhibitions can seem overwhelming. There are so many aspects to consider with these types of space. There are different considerations for each type of environment-for example, is the space going to house a permanent collection, express a cultural event or be a general space intended to hold multiple types of collections? Truly, there are countless considerations to be made for each space. One thing that is perhaps the most important is the designing of the experience of the museum or exhibit.
Can you remember a time when you were in a museum or exhibit space that created an entire experience for you?
I can remember an unforgettable experience of when I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. This museum was designed specifically for this exhibit. I feel this is part of why it is such a successful space. Since my time at the museum I have thought about what it was that made this space have such an impact on me. Of course the subject is the main reason for such an intense experience. However, I feel the design of the space truly magnified the experience and allows the user to truly be connected to the period rather than just being an observer looking at an image of a horrific event.
During my reflective thinking of this experience I have realized there are a few key elements about the design of the space that makes it have such a strong impact of the user. One of the first things I noted was the fact that it was a space designed completely around the experience of one, very influential and horrific, historical event. This allowed the spaces to be completed designed for each different area and specific experience. Different areas were designed with very different volumetric characteristics. There were moments of very tight, dark and cold spaces adjacent to large open loud spaces. These caused the user to have a wide array of psychological experiences in the same space. The design of the space was very intentional in the sequence of exhibit spaces. There was a very liner design to the museum. The design completely dictated what the user would experience at which point of the journey through the space. Finally, since the exhibit had a very linear flow to the design, the people in charge of the operations of the museum had complete control on the amount of people in any given space at any given time. There are certain parts of the tour that have more of an impact when they are experienced with a large amount of other people and there are certain rooms that are intended to have a stronger impact on a single person in the room.
There are many other elements that make the Holocaust Museum have such an experiential impact on the user of the space. The areas I discussed in my blog today are the ones that I found most influential to my experience. There are countless things to consider when designing exhibition spaces, but one thing should always be at the top of the priorities, and that is to design a space that has provides an experience that impacts the users for years to come.