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Exhibition Design

Conceptual Design of the Exhibition

A good exhibition will achieve a balance between the museum agenda, the conceptual design of the exhibition and the needs and expectations of visitors.

Museum Agenda – Conveying scientific content to the public:

We live in a world dominated by science and technology, a world in which scientific knowledge is increasingly available and accessible, and yet many people feel isolated from much of this knowledge. Indeed, there is also a growing degree of public skepticism with regard to science and the role of new media (e.g., internet) in democratizing science. Science and technology must speak in a language that is understandable, compelling and relevant to the public. Museums and other institutions and media sources have taken an active role in the communication of scientific knowledge to the public. In this exhibition we would like to show that testing and measurement are grounded in various scientific theories, use a unique methodology and have a variety of applications in today's world.

The Conceptual Design - Planning the Interaction:

Learning in an informal setting can be planned in such a way that optimal outcomes are achieved. To this end it is important to understand how visitors experience the museum setting and design the exhibition accordingly. The "story" to be communicated should be outlined, its basic concepts and ideas established. Steps should also be taken to ensure the emotional and sensory effectiveness of the story, thereby enhancing its educational value. By anticipating and carefully planning the interaction of the visitor with the exhibits – and with other visitors – and by directing the design process in a way that emphasizes ideas and experiences, the learning potential of the "story" will be augmented.

Visitors' Needs - Facilitating the dialogue:

The effectiveness of the learning process depends on the degree of engagement in it and on the meaning derived from it. Clearly, personal engagement differs from individual to individual. Moreover, it is obvious that explanations and their reception, not to mention the meanings one constructs and confers are collaborative processes. In the testing and measurement exhibition, every effort will be made to avoid any patronizing approach or stance vis-à-vis the public. The exhibition is intended to be a place where the voice of both the experts and the public will be heard, and where this encounter will give rise to enhanced discussion and an informed critical approach.



The Big Ideas

The big ideas, or main messages, the exhibition hopes to convey are also the guiding force behind its content and design.

Visitors do tend to take more than one idea or impression from an exhibit. However, the "big ideas" of an exhibit are its conceptual core. They are the key ideas that a visitor will immediately mention when asked what the exhibition is about. They are the ideas that a curator is most concerned to convey, and feels disheartened about, if they go unnoticed by visitors.

Defining these central ideas is a process that usually involves several steps: In designing the test and measurement exhibit, lists of themes and concepts to be presented in the exhibition were drawn up. These could be organized in different ways. For example, we could structure the exhibition theoretically, following the lay-out of psychometric textbooks. (One of the exhibits has actually been organized alphabetically in an encyclopedia format). But we felt this was not suited to our purposes or appropriate for our public. We could also arrange the exhibit chronologically. However, again, our goal is to say much more about tests; we expect visitors to think not only of pencil and paper tests, but of exams in a much wider sense than usual; we are interested in the impact that exams have on society and the influence that culture has on exams and, so, sought to stress that some exams are better than others in assessing the characteristics they aim to measure.

The measurement specialists came up with three key ideas during the workshop:

  • Tests come in many forms
  • Culture, time, and context and their impact on testing
  • Testing is a scientific technology


In our case, each cluster of exhibits deals with a specific idea, but all the exhibits reflect them in one way or another. Some of the planned exhibits shifted focus in the light of these big ideas. Some of the original ideas were left out. Other important subjects on measurement, such as 'tests throughout our lifetime," will be developed in the educational activities accompanying the exhibits.

Date Created: 19/04/10
Date Updated: 17/01/11