American Museum of Natural History

Interactive Wayfinding

The American Museum of Natural History is one of New York’s most iconic museums, featuring exhibits about all kinds of sciences. Due to people frequently getting lost within, we’ve designed a digital navigation system consisting of an app, kiosks, and interactive displays.

Project Summary

Case Study

Research

Discover App

Interactive Display

Kiosk

Takeaways

Project Summary

Problem

Navigating through the museum is difficult, and it doesn’t help that the appearance of their signage is very inconsistent.

Solution

Create a unified system to improve the navigation, as well as creating experiences for families with children that encourage more engagement with the exhibits.

Team

Angela Diep
Julian C. Bruggemann
Adam Chen

My Role

IXD for the interactive display
Prototyping
Research
Concept Ideation

insights

Visitors are confused by lack of clear direction.
They're tired of the miscommunication about the museum through the movie.
Most are frustrated by lack of interaction between the people and the exhibits.
Users are annoyed with the improper functionality of the museum’s app.

Case Study

My team and I redesigned the museum’s navigation system by redesigning their current app into the Discover App, their kiosks, and adding an interactive display for children.

Research

We conducted an extensive amount of research, including multiple visits to the museum itself. For a more in-depth version of the research, click here.

museum analysis

When we visited the museum, we noticed a lot of problems. The exhibits were beautiful, but it sometimes took us at least five minutes to find our way from one exhibit to the other. Almost every sign they put up looked different from each other as well.

interviews

We then asked nine people (seven visitors and two staff members) about the museum and how they felt walking through it. Below are a few of the interviews conducted.

Parents with 2 children

Favorite exhibit?

Dinosaurs, T-rex

How did you get there?

Paper Map

Was it difficult to find? If yes, what would you have liked to make it easier?

Yes. The map was deceiving due to the organization of the floors. I wish there was more signage.

Security Guard

What's your job?

Ensure safety and give directions

What do you notice about the people?

Most use their instinct and just followed the crowd

What would you like to see the museum improve on?

I would like to see more signage and educational visits to the museum.

Mother with 1 child

Favorite exhibit?

Dinosaurs

How did you get there?

Tried to use the map and asked staff members

Was it difficult to find? If yes, what would you have liked to make it easier?

Yes, it was difficult because she used a different entrance.

Information Desk Assistant

What's your job?

Helping people with navigation

What do you notice about the people?

Randomly exploring the various rooms

What would you like to see the museum improve on?

More visual aids and signage

Based on our interviews, we came up with three different personas, empathy maps, and journey maps: Rebecca, Max, and Jimothy. However, only Rebecca will be featured. To see the rest of the personas in their entirety, please view the project deck here.

persona
empathy map
journey map
sitemaps

Due to how extensive each component is, we made sitemaps for each one.

wireframes

We made lots of wireframes, but only the low-fidelity ones will be shown here. Please check out the deck here to view all wireframes.

Discover App

The Discover app aims to provide visitors with a more cohesive navigation experience by incorporating AR and allowing them to organize their trips.

Directions

The improved digital map offers a keyword-based search as well as AR Navigation.

Itinerary

Users can choose an already curated itinerary or create their own by taking a short quiz of five questions, which will base the itinerary on their interests and preferences.

Voice Chat

The voice supported chat offers a quick way to communicate with the staff via voice instant text messaging. This convenient method offers the user to ask for information such as locations and exhibition related questions in an uncomplicated manner.

Interactive Display

The interactive display would ideally be a tablet placed in front of every display in the museum. Children can play on it and use the four features available: Make It, Hear It, Learn It, See It

Make It

Children can make their own version of any display, such as coloring their own bear.

Hear It

Various difference sounds of the intended exhibits are provided so kids can hear the displays.

Learn It

By tapping on a certain part of the display highlighted on the screen, children can learn more information about the exhibit.

Kiosk

The museum's current kiosks would be modified so that they can provide more aid for families, as well as act as an alternative to the app.

Exhibition Map

The map tab shows exhibit locations on all levels of the museum, as well as specific exhibit information. You may browse the extensive catalogue to find hidden treasures or can directly search for a specific item.

Amenities Quick Access

The amenities tab gives quick access navigation buttons to all important service locations such as restrooms, dining areas, and elevators and exits. The navigation information can be sent directly to the explorer app.

Itinerary Builder

Various difference sounds of the intended exhibits are provided so kids can hear the displays.

Takeaways

When it comes to finding your way on a map, not a lot of people actually ask for help. They’ll just continue to try figuring it out on their own.