21st Century Designer; Prep for Assignment 3

In preparation for Assignment 3, the class visited the National Museum in Edinburgh today. Once in the museum we were to study the other people visiting and try and work out what they were like based on appearance and how they acted within the museum setting. The set of bullet points we were to work from were as follows:

  • What sort of people are they?

– Age – gender- social class – income – profession – education level (these are guesses – don’t ask them!)

– What sort of people are missing?

  • How are people behaving?

– Respectfully – knowingly – privately – noisily

  • What are they doing?

– Do they have a plan? – Walking randomly? – Reading exhibit notes? – Looking casually?

  • Do they display any particular behaviours?

– Taking their time – in a rush – looking at their watch – looking at their phone – taking photos

  • Do they appear comfortable?

With these bullet points in mind I began my studying. The first couple I wrote about were:

  • Male and female couple
  • Middle aged
  • Almost matching outfits (jeans, waterproof jackest, same coloured shoes)
  • It was clear they were looking for someone because of the way they were looking around.
  • They then met up with who they were looking for and the way they interacted it seems like they were old friend; greeting each other with hugs and smiles.
  • They all seemed pretty comfortable within the museum setting suggesting that they’ve probably visited a few before.
  • They were sensible and respectful to the exhibits and fellow museum goers.
  • They also didn’t use a map suggesting they’d either been at the museum before or didn’t wish to plan what they were doing.

Second person:

  • Female.
  • Early twenties.
  • Perhaps a tourist or exchange student as she was carrying a ruck sack.
  • Clearly had a plan of what she wished to visit as she had the map held completely open in her hands and looked at it every so often.
  • Seemed pretty comfortable in the surroundings, suggesting she makes visits to different museums/galleries.
  • Acting comfortable and respectful; clearly there to enjoy the exhibits.

Third person:

  • Male and female couple.
  • Early fifties.
  • Not that high of a social standing, most likely working class.
  • Listening to a tour guide and being led from exhibit to exhibit; indicating that they either don’t make regular visits to museums and don’t feel comfortable wandering around on their own. Or wish to learn from the knowledge the guide will no doubt have.
  • Look pretty interested in what the guide has to say.
  • Mirroring each other’s body language (standing straight with their hands clasped behind their back).
  • Seem slightly uncomfortable again suggesting they aren’t used to visiting museums.

Fourth person:

  • Female
  • Middle aged.
  • On a day trip with her children and their friends and their mother.
  • Getting quite irritated with the children’s excitable behaviour regarding the exhibits; having to reprimand them a couple of times.
  • Appears to be chatting to her friend more than paying attention to the exhibits. Is most likely visiting the museum for the children’s benefit to keep them entertained.
  • Not paying any particular attention to where the children are or what exhibits they’re looking at. Seems to suggest she’s not really interested in helping engage the children with the exhibits and helping them learn.
  • Seems a little bored and uninterested.

Fifth person:

  • Male
  • Early to mid twenties.
  • Walking rather distractedly with a male friend of roughly the same age.
  • Has his phone out and is paying much more attention to that than the exhibits.
  • Takes a call at one point; perhaps trying to find a group that he’s lost in the museum.
  • Clearly Scottish from the old Scotland football he has on.
  • Looks really out of place within the museum setting.
  • Doesn’t seem to have interest in the exhibits.

I also took notes on the general group of people within the museum as well as focusing on particular people. My findings were as follows:

  • The museum seems to be lacking in two age brackets;

-late teens

-twenties to thirties

  • Plenty of nursery and primary school groups wandering around; all acting very well behaved.
  • Quite a few young families
  • Seems to be that people with children don’t tend to plan what they want to do, just wander around. Also don’t spend to long at each exhibit; moving on when the children get bored and restless.
  • Seems to be opposite for people without children as they carry maps with them and seem to have a clear idea of where they want to go. Spend more time at each exhibit than families do; reading the notes and taking it all in carefully.
  • Quite a lot of tourists.

I also took notes on the different rooms that I entered, seeing as each room seemed to attract different groups of people.

Taxidermy Room: full of animals of all shapes and sizes and very interactive; clearly designed to attract children.

  • Full of children, all excited by the animals.
  • Lively and loud; buzzing with activity.
  • By far the loudest part of the museum that I visited.
  • Very interactive; touch screens with information of many of the animals.

Space Room: filled with artifacts and images related to space and space exploration.

  • Very quiet compare to the previous room.
  • Seems to be mainly men looking at the exhibits.
  • Not many children at this section.
  • Not as interactive as the previous room.

Art Gallery Section: has 5 cabinets with differently designed bowls.

  • Deserted.
  • Doesn’t seem to have the same pull as the other rooms that I visited.
  • No interaction for children at all (since it’s just displaying the items).
  • Not as visually interesting as the two previous rooms (unless you’re interested in more arty type items).

Aboriginal Section: full of different artifacts.

  • Again pretty quiet compared to the animal room.
  • Not as interactive as the animal room and quite dull in lighting; probably not as interesting looking to the children.
  • Seems to mostly attract the middle aged visitors of the museum who want to read and actually learn about the exhibits.

It was quite a strange thing to be asked to do; since any time that I have visited a museum I have obviously been more intrigued by the exhibits than people watching. But it was quite interesting (and not nearly as awkward as I previously thought) and quite an eye opener on how different people interact in such a place. It was intriguing watching how people acted and being able to tell if they were comfortable or not, bored or entertained and if they were enjoying the exhibits.


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