6.10. Interactive approaches

Today interactivity is associated with information technology – but this chapter does not deal with virtual manipulations. (Museum multimedia is the theme of Chapter 7 of this book.) In the 1950s a new trend emerged in museums: previously, visitors could not lay hands on anything in an exhibition, but the hands-on model made objects available for tactile inspection. Later the minds-on model followed: visitors were invited to think about an exhibition, not just view or handle it. The current trend is body-on, the involvement of the whole body in the museum experience. Observation of learning styles of museum visitors has become an important part of planning. These approaches are targeted to those who enjoy learning by doing, information processing through experimentation and individual knowledge construction. The illustrated examples below indicate that most visitors appreciate these opportunities and readily engage in an interactive museum learning experience.

Two wooden leaves and sheets of paper with pencil.

6.34. picture: In the National Botany Garden in Vácrátót, Hungary, children are invited to trace the outlines of leaves and compare their shape. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)

Wooden boxes with open lids and pressed flowers inside.

6.35. picture: In the National Botany Garden in Vácrátót, Hungary, interesting objects in beautifully designed containers invite visitors to explore the flora of the environment. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)

Movable paper boxes with pictures and text on the sides.

6.36. picture: Simple, useful and well-designed edutainment application at the museum of Pannonhalma Abbey, Hungary (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)

Control panel with large umbrella shaped cover above it.

6.37. picture: At the exhibition entitled „Man and nature in Hungary” at the Hungarian Museum of Natural History, this instrument made visitors curious.  The dark patch on the floor indicates that many of them actually experimented with the interactive exhibit. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)

Interactive exhibit on the wall and the floor in front of it.

6.38. picture: At the same exhibition, attractive works of graphic art, maps and interactive computer games were placed on the same wall. Traces of footsteps on the floor clearly indicate which of them were most popular. (Photo: Tamás Vásárhelyi)