We read Fay Sweet’s article (Private View, DW 20 March) with surprise and disappointment.
Fay takes a sweep at “most other sorts of exhibition” – other than art galleries – for failing to change and educate the visitor. In fact, far from forgetting their duty to the visitor, exhibitors and designers have never taken this duty more seriously than now.
Highly structured visitor surveys are currently part and parcel of the methodology of today’s science and technology museums. Clients of ours such as The Science Museum and The Natural History Museum [in London] are constantly evaluating visitor reactions to their exhibitions before, during and after completion to ensure the success of their aims both to inspire and to educate.
More specifically, Ms Sweet criticises a couple of results from a visitor questionnaire on Met Studio’s Design Week award-winning Telecom World – a telecoms exhibition for Hongkong Telecom – for not probing deeply enough. The questionnaire did, of course, ask far many more questions than just those quoted. The reason for the brevity of quotes was that they were added to a press release on the award win and we were concerned not to bore journalists with a project already so extensively covered in the press.
Telecom World was designed to give perhaps the most sophisticated level of visitor information of any exhibition ever mounted. As the world’s first smart exhibition, each visitor is given a personalised smart card, adapted to his or her age, language, educational level and special interests. This is giving, and will continue to give, both designers and clients extremely accurate information on which of the 100 interactive exhibits were the most successful and interesting according to time spent on each, depth of information requested and so on.
The questionnaire merely attempted to gain an emotional perspective on the exhibition – perhaps the one area where the smart card information cannot deliver.