Plastics Unwrapped: A Summative for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Monday, June 24, 2013
Resource Type:
Summative | Research Products | Thesis | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Interview Protocol | Observation Protocol | Scale | Evaluation Reports
Environment Type: 
Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Adults | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Health and medicine | Nature of science | Social science and psychology | Technology
University of Washington
Description or Abstract: 

This summative evaluation study examines visitors' experiences of the "Plastics Unwrapped" exhibit at the Burke Museum of Natural History, Seattle, WA. The exhibit explores the complicated legacy of plastic, and the ways in which it has improved life, but not without serious impact on people and the environment. Within a framework of four evaluation questions, this study used multiple methods to assess what visitors do and where they spend their time in the exhibit, what knowledge they take away, and whether the exhibit impacts visitors' attitude toward plastic and their perception of the Burke Museum. It also captures broad information about exhibits dealing with current environmental issues in the unusual context of a natural history museum. Findings indicate that the exhibit seems to be effective in delivering specific messages about plastic, it does appear to be impacting visitor perception of the Burke, but it is unclear whether it influences visitor's attitudes toward plastic. A limitation of this study is its small sample size, but for the Burke, the results of this study reveal what experiences visitors have within the exhibit, as well as providing information of the potential impacts an exhibit of this type has had on visitor's perception of the Burke. The appendix of this report includes the interview instrument, tracking and observation instruments, and keys.

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