What is an Interactive Exhibit, and why are they Useful?
An exhibit is generally a display of information in a public space (commonly a museum or art gallery). Interactive exhibits have elements where the user can affect what is happening in the exhibit. This could be as simple as moving a lever to make something happen, to micromanaging a system.
Examples of Non-Digital Interactivity:
Fish handling Exhibit, The Deep, Hull
This exhibit is located in The Deep in Hull. It is designed to allow visitors to the Submarium to handle some of the creatures that are seen around the rest of the attraction (mainly Starfish and Crabs). The exhibit has very similar function to the discovery game mechanic, allowing users to find things out about the creatures by themselves. The exhibit is located in the area around one of the major sections of the attraction, is well signposted, and there is a sign in the main entrance telling you the its location. However, the exhibit is not accessible all the time, as it requires a member of staff to oversee what is going on, and so only opens three or four times per day. Overall, I think that this is an effective interactive exhibit as it allows people to interact with the creatures that they are seeing inside the tanks throughout the rest of the Submarium, which helps hold people’s attention better than simply reading information about them on a notice board.
Penny Press, The Deep, Hull
This is one of the two penny presses found in the gift shop area of The Deep. It allows yo to insert a penny into the slot, and turn the wheel to imprint a design onto it. Whilst it is not an exhibit in the museum, and has very little educational value, I think it is a good example of the ‘Free Lunch’ mechanic in action in the real world. The machine allows the user to get a physical, tangible reward, for next to no cost, effort, or time. I think this is a good example of interactivity in public spaces, as it provides a physical reward for you to remember your time in the location that you are in, which encourages you to come back.
Penny Press, The Deep, Hull
These examples are not the same exhibit, but they are similar in terms of effect. The Top image of a zoetrope in the prehistoric section of the attraction, which shows how a Plesiosaur (a prehistoric underwater reptile) hunts. The second is a small exhibit that demonstrates how limpets stay alive, by getting the user to try and stick them to rocks printed into the bottom of the tank. Although these exhibits are different, the effect is the same, it allows the user to receive immediate feedback from the exhibit and observe the effects of their actions. In the zoetrope, this is done by turning a wheel to the right of the viewing screen, making the zoetrope turn, so that the user can see the animation. In the Limpet exhibit, the user presses the button on the left to cause waves in the tank and make the Limpets move, then presses the button on the right to make the Limpets stick to the bottom of the tank where they are, and attempt to stick them to the rocks in the bottom of the tank. Whilst both of these exhibits are god examples of interactivity, they can both be easily passed over if the attraction is busy, as they are both parts of larger exhibits, and are therefore quite small and not individually signposted.