The goal for XCL is to explore what sort of information, when provided through a mobile device, is highly effective to help visitors dig deeper into content at hands-on exhibits. But, whether you call them exhibits, interactives, components, etc., the initial question we had to tackle is: which ones? How do we select the exhibits that would best lend themselves towards this type of exploration? What we needed were exhibits that attract visitors and whose function, at least peripherally, is fairly obvious. But, we also wanted to use exhibits that lend themselves to experimentation, that offer deeper examination, and that can generate lots of inquiry-based work. Finally, we wanted exhibits that not only help visitors explore a concept, but provide introduction to other concepts and that can generate enough curiosity that visitors want to continue their explorations after they leave the museum.
- Visitors spend more time at exhibits
- Visitors ask and pursue questions not mentioned in the label and/or give other indications that they are not fully reliant on the authority of the museum
- Visitors ask a certain class of questions including “How can I get it to …” and “What if I…” and opposed to “Why does it…”
- Visitors engage in conversations which clearly indicate that they are inquiring, exploring, playing, observing or contemplating or give other indications that they are doing so.
- Visitors’ interaction with phenomena is not halted by request for authority
- Visitors leave for extrinsic, rather than intrinsic reasons
These characteristics, we feel, are strong indicators of exhibits with the flexibility and open-endedness that would allow us to conduct robust research for XCL.