Outdated Exhibits

September 1st, 2011 | EVALUATION

This report presents visitors' perceptions of out-of-date and up-to-date exhibits at the Museum of Science, Boston. The purpose of this study was to learn about specific exhibits that visitors' view as outdated and any characteristics that influence visitors' opinions in this regard. For this report, data were collected in three stages between December 2009 and June 2010. Data from an exit interview, a prompted camera interview, and a post-refurbishment interview provide suggestions for the Exhibit Department to consider as they prioritize exhibits they plan to refurbish or replace. The following evaluation questions guided the study: Which exhibits at the Museum of Science do visitors view as out-of-date and up-to-date?, Which exhibits give visitors particularly positive or negative impressions of the Museum?, What relationship, if any, exists between exhibits that are viewed as out-of-date and those viewed negatively?, What characteristics are shared by the exhibits that are viewed both negatively and as out-of-date by visitors?, Do the characterizations of exhibits differ between frequent and infrequent visitors?. Findings: Familiarity, perceived age, and functionality were common reasons why visitors felt exhibits were out-of-date. Content, technology, and aesthetic appeal were frequently mentioned when visitors described up-to-date exhibits. Certain exhibits that were considered out-of-date were also liked by visitors. After the refurbishment of New England Habitats, there was a notable increase in visitors' favorable impressions of the exhibit. Recommendations The Exhibit Department should continue to upkeep exhibits. Exhibits that were considered both out-of-date and not well liked are in particular need of immediate and complete refurbishment Smaller more frequent updates to exhibits could address visitors' interest in current content. The appendix of this report includes interview protocols and surveys used in the study.



Team Members

Ann Lindgren-Streicher, Evaluator, Museum of Science, Boston
Marta Beyer, Evaluator, Museum of Science
Iyar Mazar, Evaluator, Museum of Science
Museum of Science, Contributor


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Interview Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Survey
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits