At the end of the day, museums are in the business of telling a story.
No matter what the museum may feature, no matter what themes are being explored or what is on display, a museum has to tell a story to its visitors that resonates and makes sense.
The best museums use exhibits to tell that story, depending on a combination of the featured artifacts or pieces and clever environmental design and graphics to communicate the right message.
How to Tell a Story with a Museum Exhibit
One way museums use their exhibits to tell these fascinating stories of the human experience is through linear display. Stories, after all, are naturally linear. That’s how we follow a sequence of events. Linearity makes sense for us. So it only makes sense that we follow a linear timeline – a progression of one event or idea to another in a logical sequence.
That is the idea behind the “walkway” design, where the visitor is led along a path through the exhibits from stop to stop, from piece to piece, to absorb the story as it is meant to be told. This creates better comprehension of the material being covered, and helps visitors understand what is being communicated.
The best effects come from a combination of signage, environmental graphics, digital displays, custom displays, labels, and interactive kiosks. All of these together create a way to move visitors along while giving them the full effect of the story.
Creating an immersive environment is also part of telling the story. When we’re reading a great novel, we’re immersing ourselves mentally and emotionally in the story. It’s all around us. The same goes for when we’re walking physically through a space; we want to be similarly immersed.
Audio/visual elements contribute to immersion, but so do physical design elements. Using environmental graphics and design to recreate a historical setting, for example, can be a great way for a museum to immerse its visitors. Creating larger-than-life representations of important people and events can also communicate powerful messages from a story – including the characters themselves.
Environmental graphics for museums can help tell a story the way it should be told, no matter what kind of museum you operate. The goal is to bring your visitor into the experience in way that engages them, keeps their attention, and delivers important messages in a way they can understand.
With the right design for your museum exhibits, you can tell a wonderful story to your visitors.