6.3. Arrival at the exhibition

When describing an exhibition environment, we have the following features to consider:

–        Light and darkness,

–        Colours,

–        Textures,

–        Shapes,

–        Visual balance,

–        Organisation of space (linear, central, undivided, compartmentalised, etc.)

Many of these features influence the first impression we have right after entering an exhibition. These impressions are decisive – they influence the whole course of the visit and define the perception process of the exhibition. There are obvious elements of exhibition communication (for example, light effects and colours, to be discussed later), and others that visitors may not even notice but are still important factors of their experience (visual balance, clear or confused exhibition structure).

A black folding screen with golden lettering, seen through an open door.

6.12. picture: Is this really the exhibition that we came to visit? The panel has no text and its number, 06, suggests it is not the beginning installation. The visitor is confused. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)

Warning note on the floor – text in the caption below!

6.13. picture: This picture was taken in the same museum as the previous one. “„Watch out! Study exhibition!” – the note on the floor suggests that we have arrived at an unusual display, and should stop wondering why we see no instructions about the beginning of the exhibition. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)

Movement is an important element of the museum visit. In a theatre, the audience sits still, while the actors move around on the stage. In a museum, objects exhibited are (in most cases) firmly attached to their stands or the floor, or are locked up in their showcases, and it is the visitor who moves around them. In most cases, movement is restricted and influenced by other visitors, as well as by looking for the best angle to view an installation. The museum experience as movement is characterised by a flexible adaptation to routes predefined by exhibition developers, our own intentions to see certain objects and the fuzzy logic of the motion of other viewers.

Visitors moving through a narrow exhibition hall.

6.14. picture: If there is a crowd, viewing an exhibition involves a lot of compromises. Special events like the Night of Museums (when this picture was taken) attract a large number of people to the Hungarian Natural History Museum. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)