My team was tasked with creating an interactive museum exhibit for the Natural History Museum of Funchal in Madeira, Portugal.
We investigated exhibit opportunities, interviewed and observed staff and visitors, and vetted a number of museum exhibit media before deciding to pursue augmented reality, utilizing an existing, static 3D map exhibit as the physical backdrop.
Evaluate Museum space
Role: Animator, UX Designer
Client: Natural History Museum of Madeira
Tools: Paper and Pen, Sketch, After Effects
Methods: User Research, Concepting, Rapid Prototyping, Animation
We conducted a broad literature review, observations of museum tours, explored the museum space, conducted interviews with staff and visitors (both tourists and students in student groups), and investigated available interactive technologies.
• Madeira has many unique and fascinating plants and animals; many are endangered or at risk
• Natural and human disasters have changed Madeira’s environment
• There are many story opportunities
• Visitors want context and history
• Augmented reality would allow us to show a variety of these species and situations across time in an emotive, immersive, user-driven context
The Natural History Museum provides very little information about the exhibits and specimens in the museum. The museum is cluttered, exhibits are densely displayed, and information about exhibits is scarce. Visitors are overwhelmed and confused; flow and context are lacking or absent.
Framing the problem
Madeira has a rich and interesting natural history full of unique stories that visitors want to hear but that the museum isn’t telling in a way that reaches most visitors.
Madeira has world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage laurel forests, the Laurisilva
Museum has a large, intricate and visually appealing 3D Madeira map exhibit which individuals and groups can gather around which is currently underutilized
Madeira is a small island criss-crossed by hiking trails for which the museum could provide context and a conduit for visitors to go out and explore
low fidelity wireframes
I prototyped a mid-fidelity version of the augmented reality display on After Effects.
results & takeaway
Our concept was selected and ranked #1 by the museum. Museum representatives cited excitement with how our concept fits with their ideals and mission, adds multi-level value for diverse visitors, and utilizes major up-and-coming technologies.
Value added includes self-guided discovery, immersion and interaction, enrichment of existing exhibits, context-rich engagement across language barriers, group and individual experiences, storytelling connections between visitors and native species, context and recommendations for island exploration, and varied experiences for return visitors.