Last week I quickly ran down the stairs at 721 Broadway and jumped on the train toward the American Museum of Natural History. A bit giddy, I walked into the lower level entrance hall of the museum and waited for my remaining classmates to arrive. We were at the museum after hours to explore Our Global Kitchen and an upcoming exhibition. Both exhibitions are temporary, but you wouldn't ever be able to tell.
It was interesting to learn the intention of the brass placard and seating area in the entry acts to act as another 'compass' helping people orient and have a logical meeting point. After discussing the compass concept in reference to the 18th century galleries at The Met, it makes perfect sense in this environment too.
As we headed off to see the exhibitions, the museum was deathly quiet. Very strange. I've seen a limited number of temporary exhibitions, but I was extremely impressed by the cohesiveness and immersion of Our Global Kitchen. In many ways didn't feel like a temporary exhibition, the temporary wall design was successful. The linear guided traffic flow is really the only giveaway that the exhibition is temporary.
The graphic design style carries on throughout the experience, beginning with a number of plate shaped projections. They look great, however the projectors are placed in such a way that I imagine visitors often walk in front of the throw, blocking the image. With our small group, the vivid and bright high definition video and photography was an excellent introduction. Given an opportunity to change the experience slightly, I would consider other types of projectors for rear projection or short throw (but I've noticed a trend of the Panasonic projectors being used becoming almost standard for themed environments, perhaps they are bright, reliable or economical?) It would also be nice to eliminate the black space at the end of the video, a seamless loop seems more logical for an exhibition where guests may be entering at any time.
After the video, the combination of immersive scenes (the corn) and the long infographic works well. It's clear that you're being directed on a linear path, but the pervasive infographic style works well in this type of exhibition. Additionally, I find the dioramas particularly fun, they are much more interesting without a plate of glass separating you from the environment. If only this could be extended throughout the museum!
The interactive kiosks are also well done, but do seem less integrated than other experiences within the exhibition. Do the devices keep any analytic information on how they are used?
I did find it interesting that the exhibition started and ended with a video. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to watch it. Without that experience, I felt the ending was a bit abrupt.