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

Xelle: Hologram

Hologram, directed by XELLE’s producer, Zach Adam and written by Zach Adam and XELLE, is the longest music video of all time and the first true choose-your-own-adventure, fully interactive music video on YouTube. It features 7 celebrity cameos, zombies, boobie traps, and boobies.

UX for Good – New Orleans 2012

Back in May of this year, I had the honor and privilege of taking part in UX for Good in New Orleans. Here is the video documenting that experience:

UX for Good – New Orleans 2012 from UX for Good on Vimeo.

In New Orleans, music can easily be mistaken for a natural resource. It seems to emanate from every cobblestone and corner bar. But every note of every song is a product of human beings, many of whom are living in a system that is increasingly inhumane. At the second annual UX for Good event, user-experience designers from across the country convened in New Orleans, where they applied their unique brand of unrelenting empathy to the problems musicians face in their everyday lives. By the end of the event, the team of designers had devised three original ways to connect New Orleans musicians with the prosperity they deserve. Read more about what they came up with at ux4good.com.