A series of internal meetings got us set on the path for this project, but we wanted to test it with our visitors. To do this, we adopted agile planning methodology that relies on pilot projects as learning tools for iteration and further testing.
Our first pilot project zeroed-in on the idea of guidance—where and what kinds of non-directional guidance do visitor want? We stationed staff throughout the permanent collection galleries to spend time with our visitors, answering questions and having discussions. We learned:
We had enough interest in the recommendation idea, that we ran our next pilot to explore it further—do visitors want recommendations? We stationed staff in the permanent collection who offered visitors a recommendation based on pre-selected objects. Visitors were then given a handout with a connected recommendation object in another collection (selected by curators). Overall, this pilot was an extremely valuable failure:
In a nutshell, if you say to our visitors “you like x, we think you’ll like y,” and x and y are preselected, they’re going to call you out. They want recommendations, but those recommendations need to be wholly dynamic and personal—the kind of recommendations you get through conversation. This was a major eye-opener for us. If we hadn’t had this epic fail, we would not be on the path we are today, which Shelley will explain in her next post.
Sara Devine joined the Brooklyn Museum as Manager of Interpretive Materials in 2011 and is now Director of Visitor Experience & Engagement. A vocal visitor advocate, her expertise lies in crafting accessible and engaging visitor experiences and reaching audiences across platforms. She works with curators, designers, educators, technologists, and editors on all aspects of visitor experience and engagement. Sara is also a visiting assistant professor and curriculum coordinator at Pratt Institute’s School of Information for their graduate program in Museums and Digital Culture. She was previously Senior Content Developer and Project Manager at Hilferty, a museum planning and design firm in Ohio, where she developed comprehensive interpretive master plans and exhibitions for a wide variety of museums. She has also worked at Assistant Curator, Special Exhibition at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and as a Curatorial Assistant at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.