Best in Category - Communication Design 2014

Think Ahead – Exhibition about Imagining the Future at Scienceworks

Museum Victoria

Think Ahead invites visitors to imagine the future, presenting advances in science and technology that affect the way we live, communicate travel and play.

Think Ahead is a long term (7+years) exhibition aimed at children 8-12years-old. It invites visitors to imagine the future, presenting advances in science and technology that affect the way we live, communicate travel and play. The exhibition has ten interconnected themes – communication, sound, medicine/health, food, natural systems/environments, transport, space, money, daily life, cities – as well a ‘future ideas’ demonstration area.

The exhibition inspires visitors to think about how our actions will shape what the future could become. Interactive installations allow visitors to create their own visions of the future, alongside displays of cutting edge science and technical developments.

Design Excellence

The exhibition design draws inspiration from the idea that different aspects of our world and future developments are related and interconnected. It gives shape to this through a continuous linking form that connects the exhibition themes into an intriguing interactive landscape for visitors to explore.

By compressing, expanding and changing scale, this design device offers a flexible but coherent linking structure that works in three dimensions – connecting vertical walls with floors and ceilings, and interiors of showcases with interactives located outside. It also provides a visual device that informs and links interactives, multimedia and graphics in a holistic way.

Design Impact

Think Ahead is contributing to growing Scienceworks’ audience. Opening December 2013, record visitation was achieved over summer – 1720 visitors per day. In Autumn school holidays the Think Ahead exhibition was specifically promoted and a new record set of 35,480 total attendance, of which 28% of visitors to Think Ahead were first-time visitors to Scienceworks.

Our visitors love the exhibition “… the new digital exhibits are amazing and so interactive. We will be back again and again…”; and are commending our inclusive design “ My son is partially deaf – he found this exhibitions brilliant, particularly the Future-mood-room sound-interactive. Thankyou!”

Design Transformation

The exhibition design has transformed Scienceworks visitors’ journey from a simple ‘hands-on’ science-centre approach to a multi-layered experience of interactivity and exploration.

The design has cleverly changed the ‘pace’ of the experience with large scale immersive areas holding visitors attention for longer; and more singular simpler experiences cleverly integrated.

Leading-edge technology is carefully integrated with built form design. And the design intent is extended to every medium – from large scale interactive projections to showcased graphic communication to floor finishes, the colour palette and branding. It has created a coherent experience with depth, executed in a playful and memorable way.

Design Innovation

Exhibition design and technology combine seamlessly to create dynamic and spectacular interaction where visitors ‘research, create, share’, and their own creations become ‘real’.

A large scale example of this is in the transport theme – where visitors create their own future vehicle at one of 8 touch screen stations  which is then  then ‘released’ into the exhibition as a projection – moving up a ramp onto a curved wall where it appears at full scale size alongside the creations of other visitors.

In addition visitors can send their creation to themselves off-site via an email capacity, creating a great memento.

Other Key Features

Specialists provided advice on best-practice for inclusive access for differing abilities. Consideration of this is evident in the content and experiences presented as well as the design resolution.

In addition a rigorous evaluation program of ideas-testing was undertaken with 8 – 12 year old children – from testing responses to broad concepts such as ‘imagining the future’ to the full- scale prototyping of interactives.

Materials with low environmental impact were selected. In addition the process recycled as much as possible – for example 92% recycling of the previous exhibition demolition; and this exhibition re-used existing showcases and other structure.