Olga Khvan
Museums of Future

Advised by Google Translate and Assistant teams, we are exploring ways to improve visitors' experience and grow audience in small art museums.

Download research report →

My responsibilities
Qualitative research
Study plan
Team management
Visual design mentoring


Timeline
Feb 2020–now
Team
Andrew Lillie
Olga Khvan (me)
Xiaoshi Dai
Design challenge
How might we create stronger personal connections between people and art that encourages free and open discussions?
Context
For a long time museums are considered to be as learning institutions.
When many people think of museums, they think of widely recognized museums or global attractions located in big city. In fact, we'll find museums of all sizes and varieties situated not only in major metropolitan areas but also in rural cities all around the world. By any measure, the vast majority of the nation's museums are small, with fewer than five staff. All museums, despite their sizes, play an important role in modern society inspiring social changes and securing human cultural heritage.

Traditional activities of exhibition in a physical space limit the museum from approaching to a bigger community. Also, small museums are under pressure to build attendance especially facing the shortage of funding, limitation of resource, and challenges during the COVID-19.

To understand what can be improved in the lifecycle of art-museum-visitor, our team have researched on visitors' experience visiting art museums and learning about art content.
Research scope map
Insights
1
People, even despite having formal training, are generally not confident in their knowledge about art and the history or vocabulary surrounding it.
2
Building personal connections with art pieces help people to have a more memorable and successful experience.
3
Multiple touch points for learning about a piece of art allow for greater learning opportunities.
4
Not understanding the relationship between art pieces shown together creates confusion for visitors.
Design opportunities
1
Create multiple ways to connect and engage with art, expanding the visitors appreciation for an art piece.
2
Encourage open discussions about art among friends, family members and others.
3
Facilitate learning process about art, make art content more digestible by making art language more accessible and easier to understand.
4
Guide and navigate visitors through their experience of museum visit by improving storytelling aspect.
Process
Secondary research
We did literature review of scholar articles, US museums associations reports and related online portals. To understand current existing tech solutions we also did a Competitive analysis assessment.

Also based on information from secondary research we were able to identify main actors involved in art-museum-visitor experience. It helped us to define participants for primary research.
Stakeholders map
Primary research
For this research phase our main goal was to understand visitor's interest in art and motivation to visit art museums. Also we explored their learning patterns, desires, and pain points in the context of the art museums.

I led User studies design, managed external communication, planning and scheduling with participants. Our main research method was semi-structured interviews. We conducted interviews with both sides: visitors and museums subject matter experts. In interviews with visitors, we integrated directed storytelling workshop using a card-sorting activities.

Our full research report with user studies and interview scripts can be found here.
Research questions

Primary question:
What prevents art and cultural content in small museums to be more accessible for people who have an interest in it? Especially for those who are somehow experiencing limitations due to their geographical location or social status.

Guiding questions:
— How do museums expand their audience through online channels?
— How do museum-goers understand and process art content?

Subquestions:
— Learning aspect/How do they interpret "better" understanding? (What did they learn?)
— Creating memories/What makes an experience memorable? (How do they remember?)
— What are the limitations and pain points while understanding the content?
— Navigation (How they move around?)
— Community: engaging with other people (events, going somewhere together, discussing things later)

Remote directed storytelling workshop
Breakdown of user study session with visitor
Data synthesis process map
Detailed insights
Insight 1:
People, even despite having formal training, are generally not confident in their knowledge about art and the history / vocabulary surrounding it.
Supporting quotes:
"I feel like I'm not like a like social like bragger of like look at my life, look at what I do, look I'm so cultured." —P2

"I just, I feel like in my mind it's really pretentious to be like I saw this artist that I really liked and like I know all these things about them. And so like I just never do that" —P2


Related design opportunities:
1. Facilitate learning process about art, make art content more digestible by making art language more accessible and easier to understand.

2. Encourage open discussions about art among friends, family members and others.

Insight 2:
Building personal connections with art pieces help people to have a more memorable and successful experience.
Supporting quotes:
"I guess in a way I want there to be something new that I haven't seen before or, you know, something" —P5

"First, I like finding something familiar in a, in the pieces so far does come from this like connecting I like being connected with the, with the things from the past."
—P6


Related design opportunities:
1. Create multiple ways to connect and engage with art, expanding the visitors appreciation for an art piece.

2. Encourage open discussions about art among friends, family members and others.


Insight 3:
Multiple touch points for learning about a piece of art allow for greater learning opportunities.
Supporting quotes:
"Having an artist speak about their work I think ... is really powerful" —P0

"Yoko Ono actually showed up; And also it was like really out of my mind I didn't expect and that's how that was my favorite memory"
—P9


Related design opportunities:
1. Facilitate learning process about art, make art content more digestible by making art language more accessible and easier to understand.

2. Encourage open discussions about art among friends, family members and others.


Insight 4:
Not understanding the relationship between art pieces shown together creates confusion for visitors.
Supporting quotes:
"...even though it's a small museum some submissions are quite randomly structured, which makes it really confusing" —P4

"And I want to have a thorough guidance, so that people don't have to...see every work based on, I want the guidance to"
—P10


Related design opportunities:
Guide and navigate visitors through their experience of museum visit by improving storytelling aspect.


Design principles
Facilitate learning

Provide ways for visitors to engage with art beyond just viewing experience. Challenge visitors and their preconceived notions of art.
Foster open discussions and stronger relationships with art
Make visitors feel more confident speaking about art and their experiences with it. Inspire deeper relationships with art through discussions.
Humaine & Accessible
Make art content simple to connect with
and engage with
Preserve notable and emotional moments
Foster a deeper connection with memorbale art peices and allow people to collect these memories so they can be revisited.
Next steps
During the upcoming two months we are going to pick few insights we want to focus on. Then ideate, prototype and design our potential solution.