The University of Michigan Museum of Art looked to enhance their relationship with visitors. They wanted to create a unique experience that made visitors feel welcome and increased their chances of returning. In doing so, UMMA hoped to strengthen their visitor services process in a manner that would inform and support the mission of the institution while raising the bar for the visitor's experience.
We conducted background research regarding museum visitor studies and factors that can positively and negatively impact their experience. Also, we looked at case studies of how museums are attempting to engage with visitors through both technology and learning objectives.This research helped to inform the interview protocol we developed to engage stakeholders at the museum.
We conducted 7 interviews with stakeholders and employees to gain further insights into the issue. Through our stakeholder interview, we determined the project scope and learned more about the vision of UMMA. Our employee interviews helped to highlight the initiatives UMMA developed in the past and upcoming improvements they were looking to apply. Through user observations we learned common issues that visitors faced at the museum.
We followed 6 first time visitors around the museum to observe how they interacted with UMMA. In addition, we also observed 30 visitors in the lobby of UMMA to see what they were initially drawn to and any pain points they encountered.
We use affinity wall to structure all the data we gathered through our interviews and visitor observation. Small interpretation sessions were held within 24 hours after each interview. After the interviews were completed we constructed an affinity wall to identify problems expressed by multiple interviewees and visitors.
Visitors had problems finding artworks that initially attracted them to the museum.
When visitors entered the lobby they were confused if they were in the right place since there wasn't a greeter or visible interior signage.
First-time visitors to UMMA were unsure of what pieces they should look at based on the limited visitor guide.
Improving the Navigation materials by including a layered map on every floor, and making sure the labeling is consistent across deliverables. By providing more visuals on the signs and implementing color coding, users will feel more at ease in a new space. Additionally, a comprehensive sitemap accompanied by directories will reduce navigation anxiety.
Personalizing the museum experience by providing visitors with a guide and activity kit based on their reasoning for coming to UMMA that day. Are they looking to browse the museum between classes, on a date, bringing their children, exploring with friends? Each of their scenarios can be tailored to must-see pieces in the museum along with an activity kit to keep users engaged.
Incorporating comfortable seating at key entrances to provide a welcoming atmosphere. When visitors currently enter UMMA, space is vast and potentially overwhelming for the user. Since most visitors enter through Alumni Memorial Hall and Frankel Family Wing, positioning comfortable seating would allow the visitors time to orient themselves with the museum and feel welcomed. Once entering the museum seating would offer the visitor time to take a seat and look over the visitor guide and map out the exhibits and artwork they would like to see.