Redesigning Museums for Good

THE CONVERSION POINT

A museum is more than a collection of interesting objects.

A memorial is more than a heap or marble or stone.

Each of these types of institutions exist to serve a greater purpose. Whether it’s the British Museum or a local historical society, these organizations create an experience that is meant to inspire some action on the part of those who visit them.

For many years, museums did not take direct responsibility for the conversion point between experience and action — what visitors did after they left the gift shop was their business. But today, some institutions are thinking differently about this key component of their missions, asking tough questions about how the conversion happens and seeking new tools to make sure that it does.

THE INZOVU CURVE

Earlier this year, we went to work on behalf of an institution with an undoubtable moral mandate for action: the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, final resting place for more than 250,000 people killed in the 1994 genocide. Aegis Trust, the organization that built and operates the memorial, wanted to make sure that visitors were offered not just a strong emotional experience at the memorial site and museum, but opportunities to help stop genocide today and in the future. So we sent a team of user experience designers to Rwanda to figure it out.

With the help of the Rwandan people, they did it. In their work the team made use of an array of resources, from experts on museum design to their own personal observations at the memorial site. But they were most inspired by the young people who visited and worked at the Kigali site. In workshops and curricula, portable posters and personal stories, the next generation of Rwandans are figuring out how to convert the story of one of history’s worst genocides into hopeful action in their own lives.

Carefully observing these young people, the designers developed a model the Kigali museum — and all museums — can use to convert profound emotional experiences into action. They nicknamed it “the Inzovu Curve” after the Kinyarwanda word for “elephant,” because the arc users travel resembles an elephant’s trunk. Visitors to a memorial or museum first descend into a state of (often painful) empathy with the victims of violence whose stories they encounter.

Many institutions simply abandon them there; the Inzovu Curve instead advises them to provide additional experiences that lift visitors into a state of compassionate action. The model also identifies specific moments of reflection and transformation that will help equip all visitors to make a difference in the world.

Eventbrite: Redesigning Museums for Good

Music Credits: “Rasputin” by HEPNOVA

Petrosino in the news again

Joe_petrosino

New leads in the 1909 murder of Italian-American police detective Joe Petrosino:

“My father’s uncle was called Paolo Palazzotto. He carried out the murder of the first policeman to be killed in Palermo. It was he who killed Joe Petrosino, on behalf of Cascio-Ferro.”

Here is a musical homage to the fallen officer from 2010 that I made with Joe Gualtieri and Nicholas Dibiase.

#DesignThyself 2.0 => #EverydayMusic

leesean ukulele

For my second #DesignThyself project, I will be rebooting my musical practice. Given my teaching and consulting work, I haven’t had as much time as I have wanted to practice, write, and produce music. I have decided to make music the first thing I do every morning, or the last thing I do before bed. I will be blogging my process here on my blog.

Starting this morning, instead of checking my email as the first thing I do when I wake up, I instead spent 20 minutes practicing ukulele and singing. I worked on Hallelujah and Peace Love and Understanding.