People in any profession tend to get focused on their particular field and the issues that affect them. Every once in a while it is good to look to some outside influences to get inspiration. Last week we presented a session at the Southeast Museum Conference in Williamsburg, VA entitled Five Design Ideas Every Museum Professional Should Know.

Our goal was to both inspire and broaden the thinking about your museums and how you can better respond to visitors. These are not necessarily new ideas, and all are inspired by forward thinkers in our society. We hope this generated some engaging discussion throughout the conference.

Here is a quick summary:

Design Idea 1
Streaker, Stroller, Studier: At every museum, there are generally three basic types of museum visitor, which can be termed the Streaker, the Stroller and the Studier. Museums should be organized to respond to all three.

Design Idea 2
Pattern Language: In our culture, people have a common ingrained and intuitive sense of expectations about buildings and what makes a pleasing experience. To assist in your goal to get people engaged with your mission and collections, these patterns should be considered and have influence in the design of your facilities.

Design Idea 3
I Think I Like Vanilla: In addition to responding to people’s fundamental expectations, and for all the effort you are putting to try and analyze whatever people are thinking, there is always a viewpoint you may not have considered. It is important to engage people directly about their experience so that you can better understand and respond to your visitors’ expectations.

Design Idea 4
Using the Six Senses: In a growing technological age, it will be the ability to tell compelling stories and provide meaning in a creative way that will be the key to success.

Design Idea 5
Beauty is a Fundamental Human Need: The pursuit of beauty is a form of big picture thinking and every museum needs to retain a sense of big picture thinking in order to retain and build upon the features which have made it – or will make it – successful over time.