Interaction won’t cure exhibition problems

I saw our company name included (News Analysis, DW 28 January) for the design of the new Earth Galleries at the Natural History Museum – but, who was that group in the listing, “Restless Surface”? (It’s actually the name of one of the exhibitions).

Describing “more interaction” as the panacea to cure all ills is very passé, very 20th century. The Dome is surely all interaction, but why does it exist? The public have finally caught on to the con trick that if you throw a series of press buttons or computer consoles into any jumble of ideas, it does not guarantee success.

With the explosion of new media, the challenge that all exhibition designers face is: if it can be done better elsewhere, why include it in an exhibition? So, if you can read it in a book, in the comfort of your own home, watch it on TV, buy the CD, get it on the Web or go to Disney, don’t bother to include it in your exhibition.

So what are the things that could make future exhibitions unique to their media? Museum collections, real artefacts, real castles, actual places where history is being made.

By all means use interaction to explain these unique things, but do not lose sight of what the core to a good exhibition should be.

Mark Magidson

creative director

Exhibition Plus

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