On screen

I am 100% behind Mat Wedel’s famous rant about computers in museums. People got to natural history museums to see natural history. But of course that doesn’t mean that a good computer display etc. cannot enhance what is already there in front of you, providing details and layers and depths not available with a traditional static sign.

And here is an example of this being done well, it’s a single page about the Allosaurus display the the Carngeie. The image is crystal clear and it’s of the section of exhibit right in front of you, so no confusion over where to look or in identifying things. It clearly identifies the dinosaur and the Morrison Formation, but also reveals that all those lovely plants around the skeleton are not just set dressing but actual representations of fossil plants that were around at the time, and have names and are known from specimens etc. It helps bring things together and for people to see an appreciate the depth on dispaly and learn more from it than they might otherwise. All in all, great stuff.


4 Responses to “On screen”

  1. 1 Heinrich Mallison 30/11/2011 at 8:57 am

    I’ve seen some great and some horrible implementations of computer screens in exhibits. I guess I’ll have to blog another rant soon.

    Overall, computers can replace text panels and figure panel, and if they are done well and (a bit) interactive they can allow those interested to dig deep for info, but those with a more shallow interest can still get the important bits of info without being swamped and driven away. The art is achieving that balance.

    • 2 David Hone 30/11/2011 at 9:12 am

      Right. It allows you to add more information and more depth than a traditional sign (or at least in a much smaller space) and allows people to find that they are most interested in quickly. But it’s there to enhance, not replace.

      • 3 Heinrich Mallison 30/11/2011 at 9:14 am

        Yep – I recently talked to someone who had done a lot of these things and he said “a computer screen is just a very versatile sign. Why would you put up a sign that points at nothing?”

  2. 4 Robert A. Sloan 01/12/2011 at 1:32 am

    That’s pretty cool. You can get more information into a computer screen sign too if it’s got a slide show – it’d be several signs in one! I also always liked the “map” signs on a diorama saying what each plant and animal was in it, Chicago’s Field Museum had quite a few of those. I remember the Carboniferous diorama so vividly in part because of that sign.

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