Plastics Exhibit Front-End Evaluation

July 1st, 2011 | EVALUATION

Main findings and Points of Interest Both Burke visitors and members found "Life Before Plastics" to be the MOST interesting exhibit topic area. This was in part due to a general interest in history, but also included the desire to learn more about what alternatives to plastic exist, and a peaked curiosity about how past cultures survived without plastic materials, specifically how their own daily routines would be impacted if plastics did not exist. Both Burke visitors and members found "What can I do?" to be one of the LEAST interesting exhibit topic areas. This was in part due to a feeling of message saturation, this message (that of recycling) is pervasive in our lives and received consistently through other organizations. Some visitors also felt this message was too "preachy" and were already well aware of steps they could take to reduce their waste and recycle." Other MOST interesting topics chosen included "Environmental Impacts" by Burke members, and "Plastic Science and Engineering" by Burke visitors." Other LEAST interesting topics chosen included "Plastics In Our Lives Today" by Burke members, and "Local Stories" by Burke visitors." Both Burke members and visitors rate their overall level of interest on the topic of "plastics" to be around "5" on a scale of "1-7" (1=least interesting and 7=most interesting)." Burke visitors are already knowledgeable about the topic and already aware of the pervasiveness of plastics in their daily lives, specifically the environmental impacts. Environmental issues and ocean health are frequently mentioned when asked to discuss negative impacts, and the convenience of plastic is frequently mentioned when asked to discuss positive impacts." Some Burke members and visitors question the appropriateness of the topic as a Burke exhibit, favoring other types of museums to present this topic instead (i.e. a history museum or science center). However, to those interested in the exhibit topic, the content is timely and relevant to the natural history focus of the Burke, especially if the implications for wildlife are to be discussed." It was difficult for members to specifically articulate what they would expect to do or see in this type of exhibit beyond general "hands-on, interactive, posters, text displays", but most answers include some aspect of being able to touch plastic objects, specifically unique objects such as "medical devices". Any opportunity for showcasing historically unique items and/or less well-known plastic items (i.e. plastics used in medicine) would be well-received.



Team Members

Nick Visscher, Evaluator, University of Washington
Eric LaPlant, Evaluator, University of Washington
University of Washington, Contributor


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Nature of science | Technology
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Front-End
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits