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DIA – In-museum kiosk: Notes & Recommendations
September 11, 2009


Listed below are the assumptions we have made in order to design the kiosk interface to a measure of technical specifications and requirements of and associated delivery systems which includes a work flow and visitor experience

  1. The in-museum kiosk will give autonomy to visitors to create their own informed experience at the museum and will mirror the 'Family Fitting Room' and museum brochures
  2. The kiosk should only allow visitors to design an experiences based on "featured tours". Featured tours are deigned by museum staff and coincide with current exhibitions.
  3. The kiosk screen size is19 in, (Resolution 1280 *1080) with touch screen and keyboarding features.
  4. A museum staff person can easily update kiosk information by editing existing TMS information and will be able to set expiry dates on exhibition data entered.
  5. The museum has the staff and the hardware to launch such an undertaking.
  6. The in-museum kiosk will save money by only printing one map that combines all exhibition information as desired by the visitor.
  7. The TMS or another FE feature will be able to create maps on the fly.  And museum staff can in some way update the map information.
  8. The software components required to build a in-museum kiosk are inline with the software components FE are building, or have built.

Listed below are the concerns we have in moving forward in the design process. 

  1. There are still a number of unanswered questions as to how the workflow of museum staff would be integrated into the design of the in-museum kiosk.
  2. We believe that maintenance of such a system would be costly i.e. paper, ink cartridges, general maintenance and the system itself could easily miss use/over use without an attendant.
  3. We believe more analyses needs to be down to determine what the format of the map what information should be included and what it should look like.

Listed below are the actions we would like to take to refine the in-museum kiosk wireframes and present back to the DIA for further consultation. The following interface design issues will be resolved in our next wireframe iteration:

  1. Portal Page: we will re-evaluate the primary purpose(s) of the kiosk and communicate this on the portal page
  2. Focus on collections: we will use design strategies to stress that the exhibits are a means of attracting people to the museum, but it's important to promote the galleries and permanent collections
  3. Searching: We will provide visitors with a simple interface that 'sketches' out a tour, with general themes of what the galleries/collections/exhibits are about, and lists of different predefined questions that facet people's interests.
  4. Features: We will rethink grid structure and the drag and drop function.
  5. Information/Didactics: We will simplify information layout and use more making images so that people will explore the different collections using less text.
  6. Map: We will re-think the functionality and how to visualize the museum space/landmarks
  7. Semantics: We will re-organize/categorize kiosk based on definitions of collections/galleries vs. exhibits and how tours are produced from these.   We need to think of tours as a sequence of stops in which artifacts (or galleries, sections) can be seen independent of each other (not consecutively necessarily)

Discovery (areas that need further exploration)
Visitor Experience
We will create Journey frameworks to further explore the visitors experience while using the in-museum kiosk.  We want to learn how we can maintain wow-factor and rely on the technology to facilitate the museum visit, not direct it.   We also want to design this system so that very little time is spent at the kiosk – 3 minutes max.
Staff Workflow Experience
We will create Journey frameworks to further explore museum staff's experience to further understand the workflow of the TMS, developing interpretive data and the way curatorial staff produces gallery content.   We need to understand how the backend would function (i.e. FE - couch DB, with the DIA's TMS).


Leah and James Notes combined: 


  • Interface
    • Information/Didactics
    • Searching
    • Tour Themes
    • Mapping
  • Semantics
  • Visitor Needs
  • Staff Work Process
  • Goals



  • Information/Didactics
  • Main screen should feature the gallery and collections
  • More focus needed on the permanent collection; bring the permanent collection into focus
  • Images are critical, a collage of image and words
  • Words might capture the big idea, and not just the title/name of the exhibition
  • Keywords
  • Time duration of tour needed
  • We might consider having a pop-up with extra detail
  • We need to stay away from blobs of text; 150 words max
  • Give an indication of how long the tour would take before dragging it into the selection reel
  • There's no need to indicate age appropriateness of tours
  • Simplify the interface: shouldn't have too many things (objects?) to go through
  • Visitors shouldn't be spending too much time at the kiosk
  • Sidebar in the brochure printout that includes a bit of extra information about the museum (e.g., "This week at the DIA", "What's happening at the DIA today")
  • Incorporate events, workshops, lectures, etc. into the tour itinerary
  • Could we have a different interface instead of choosing from a grid of object thumbnails?
  • Geographic interface, timeline (brackets of time, circus, etc.)?
  • On the printout: What else is going on in the museum, what's scheduled, where's it happening?
  • On the kiosk, what/how much information should be given about each collection? Artifact? How will this compel people to see an object?
  • Do we provide images? Collages? Music? Video?
  • How do we facilitate visitors' need to 'discover' and 'explore' without giving out too much information about the collections?
  • The box that gives a description of Exhibit A is going to be really important. We need to really look at how do to describe these.
  • It's really critical to give people enough information in the [Exhibit A synopsis]. It's going to be tricky to give them enough information to make them want to see it. [David]
  • Interesting combinations of how to communicate what this exhibit is about - collages maybe? Many possibilities here. [DIA]
  • It's better to have more images and keywords - stay away from lots of text! More image driven. Maybe one paragraph. (150 words) [DIA]
  • Description of artists? [DIA]
  • What about music? What other accompaniments would there be to this description? [Alison]
  • Suggestion: Have an end date stated somewhere. "The dates for this gallery is ... or for this exhibition is XX/XX/XX. Just so people know how long a collection is up for. This is also helpful so that if I don't have time to delete it off the site, people will know that it's over. [DIA]
  • Searching
  • Their collections doesn't use "Subjects" facet
  • Using metadata at the level we have it in the customized tours wireframe is going to create problems, specifically, searching by keyword
  • Instead of searching by keyword, maybe we should have something more menu-driven
  • Browsing is going to be a better interaction in this case
  • Could we search through galleries, along with objects?
  • Could we search by bigger ideas, and types of experiences?
  • If we list objects, we shouldn't have too many; narrow the selection--don't allow visitors to have to choose from 100+
  • Perhaps we could use a question-based experience customization, instead of searching by keywords (e.g., like those psychology/personality tests, choosing from two pictures)
  • Maybe we could replicate [the Family Fitting Room] experience--instead of looking at the entire collection, display a small selection of things that you can look at in the museum
  • Selection should be a variety of disparate images
  • Once one is selected, perhaps the system could suggest others objects
  • Make sure that the initial selection is very limited (e.g., couple dozen pictures)
  • Some limited interpretation would be nice
  • Start the customization experience by asking questions
  • Get a customized tour based specifically on the visitor's interest, but how to really get at that? Are they interested in Van Gogh, impressionism, colours, time periods, etc.?
  • Customize the tour based on why they choose a particular image
  • E.g., if they choose a Van Gogh painting, ask if they chose it because it was a Van Gogh, or because they liked the colours, or the style, or the subject of the piece, etc., and provide more objects based on the visitor's response (if we do this, we'll want to bring a thumbnail down into the basket, and without leaving the grid of images, get suggests for others similar to that object)
  • Let's have, say, 20 images up on the main screen
  • Let's also have, say, 500 images in the "background", all networked together
  • Selecting one of the image thumbnails might give a bigger, full-screen view of it (appeal to the visual attraction)
  • Tour Themes
  • In terms of kiosk tours, would be nice to have seasonal/temporary tours, such as "Today's feature tour", or "May is Dutch month", or "Special Halloween tour"
  • You may be signing up for one of three things: gallery, temporary exhibition, or cross-sectional tour. Make it clear what you're signing up for.
  • Idea for another type of tour: "staff picks"--selection of artifacts, no interpretives, just the tombstone text, and possibly a high-level tour blurb of why the staff chose those artifacts
  • Maybe we can allow browsing by different themes, subjects, artists; all with thumbnails to select a variety from
  • Less free choice: mini-brochure tours offer some interpretation for each object that ties around a specific team
  • Medium free choice: customized tours that offer a selection of things; and/or keywords and/or series of keywords, selected by the museum that ties groups of objects together. E.g., if you like this, you'll also like
  • Offers just a selection of the collection, not the entire collection on display
  • Full free choice: able to access all objects in the database on the map, on the mobile device, with the functionality of our mobile design
  • Ask "Do you like this?" -> Ask "What do you like about it?" -> Visitor answers "I like 'this' about it" -> Offer objects from the "background" linked by that relationship
  • Offer other paths, such as:
  • "Other visitors who selected this also selected..."
  • "Visitors who put this into their basket also had these items in their basket..."
  • Limit the number of objects they can have in their basket (to, say, 10-15)
  • Should we allow a way for undeterred browsing through all the 500 objects? Or should we limit this?
  • A short, game-like experience: "Do you like this image, or this image? This image, or this image?", and then create a customized experience based on preference implications (a la psychology/personality tests)
  • Cover some of the more popular possibilities (e.g., "Greatest hits" tour) in the pre-fabricated tours
  • Have "See/join a directed tour by a docent" as an option on the home screen (i.e., pre-authored tour, customized tour, physical tour by docent)
  • I'm trying to see the benefit of coupling multiple tours? [David]
  • Maybe take objects of different tours and culminate these into one tour? [DIA]
  • Maybe a thematic tour and a collection tour together may be feasible. [DIA]
  • Maybe we could offer several maps of different touring options? [DIA]
  • Mapping
  • An interface with many tours and many objects layered on top of the map is going to be difficult for people to read (too visually complex)
  • Too many pins on the map is intimidating
  • Objects are going to be intermingled
  • Could we introduce paths (i.e., lines on a map) to indicate where to go?
  • Many of the tours will be on more than one floor-- pathing will need to take stairs, elevators, etc. into consideration
  • Having multiple tours on one interface/map: is this really a good thing?--is it too confusing?
  • Would it make sense to have multiple map printouts (?) -- overview map + detail maps
  • Three types of doohickeys on map:
  • Object (artifact, painting, etc.)
  • Blob (cluster of objects, section, gallery, exhibition)
  • Path (a line)
  • How will the mapping feature work given the massive scale of objects in the museum?
  • What will the map look like? (3D, photo-realistic, schematic, etc)
  • What are its affordances?
  • How does the map update itself once objects move around?
  •  We'd like to see features like bathrooms, cafeteria, and other information displayed here.
  • How do you properly define the path of the tour? Location? Time efficiency? [ALL]



  • Exhibits are what are in the museum only for 3-4 months
  • Galleries (relatively permanent spaces) are not considered exhibits
  • At any given time, there are 2-4 special exhibitions live at the museum
  • Approximate division of space: 145,000 sq. ft for the main space, 20,000 sq. ft for the special exhibitions
  • Tours are often structured--a sequence of stops
  • Not all tours are structured: content in the mini-brochure tours doesn't build on each other--each stop is independent of each other
  • Artifacts aren't necessarily the only stops in a tour; can be blocks, galleries, sections
  • Interpretive texts change for the object, based on the tour
  • i.e., if the same object showed up on multiple tours, the text might be different for each tour, even though it's the same object
  • There are three main facets to objects:
  • Constituent name (last name of artist)
  • Culture name
  • Category
  • Tours should be a sketch, where the visitors fill in the blanks during their meanderings/exploration
  • Sketch = provided by kiosk
  • Tour as a sequence/set of objects is the framework/sketch of the experience at the museum
  • Don't call it an exhibit. It's one of 3 things: gallery, exhibition (temporary), or a collection [David]


Visitor Needs

  • Will visitors actually take multiple tours at the same time? A bit doubtful
  • Maybe instead of allowing many tours, we can impose a limit
  • i.e., allow just up to three tours stacked (or maybe an estimated tour time limit)
  • Fill in the blank = visitors walking through the museum space and enjoying other works
  • Studies show that visitors have control over their experience, and that they'll use it
  • We don't need to encourage it--we just have to prevent putting up barriers
  • Limit the kiosk experience to 3 minutes!
  • If we had web and mobile analogues of the kiosk design, they could have extended experiences on those
  • What about the problem of people wanting to come in and see a Van Gogh? How would we cover situations like that?
  • People go because:
  • Who will be using the kiosk? Will a docent assist people?
  • What information are visitors looking for related to the actual collections? (i.e.: Artists, Activities, Objects, etc)
  • Do visitors want to combine collections or particular objects from different collections in a single tour?
  • How can the kiosk provide a way for visitors to give feedback?
  • Can the visitors rate a tour?
  • People really want to look at the art... not the kiosk. [DIA]
  • They want discovery - not to have things spelled out for them. Leave them clues but don't give away the farm [DIA]
  • There is the concern that visitors will stay at the kiosk for too long. [DIA]
  • It's helpful if the visitor is told how much time a tour is. This needs to be told to the user before they drag it into the Selection Reel. [DIA]
  • Age appropriateness: they usually put a caution up but nothing more than that. [DIA]
  • Include on our tour "adult public tours." We still take people through them. We don't have anything that controversial. Couldn't have the 'sexy tour.' [DIA]
  • What would be really interesting is if visitors gave feedback and could rate tours. [DIA]


Staff work/process

  • Marketing dollars are pushed towards promoting special exhibitions, but once you're in the museum doors, we should balance it out
  • Mini-Brochure process: Had a number of themes in mind -> Looked at entire collection, sifted through the objects -> Fit those objects on the map, looked at best paths, what crossed multiple collections and galleries, and fit visually with the theme -> Consulted with curator on appropriateness
  • Can this kiosk just work with the data that's already in the TMS? Do you need to hire someone? [Vicki] We're already talking about this with our in-house technician [DIA]
  • If we went with this [kiosk], it could dramatically change the way we do things right now. [DIA]
  • We're committed to feedback and evaluating our tours. We use whatever we can to shape our future exhibitions [DIA]
  • Feedback from tours (created through different means, by different people) could help sculpt the shape of future tours (and other things)
  • The difficulty in what this proposes is that there's no one interpretation for a single object. One object can be used in 3 different tours and can mean very different things depending on the context its being used in. [David]
  • We could have many different themes like "Eating and Dining", "Spirituality", etc.  We would need some interpretation of this in some form of text. [DIA]
  • Museum staff will often ask if the parent have kids and then cater to them based on this [DIA]
  • How do we manage the scope of this given the data we have for the thousands of artifacts we have? [David]
  • We probably need to do some testing with the visitors to see what they search for. It's hard to answer. [David]
  • We really need to do research on this because I don't want 120 objects to sift through. It will cause a lot of frustration since they won't know what they're looking for. [David]



  • Keep the experience at the kiosk short
  • Limited selection of objects for customized tours
  • Use existing content from brochures for pre-authored tours
  • This kiosk is a combination of the 'Family Fitting Room' and the museum brochures
  • Visitors can create their own personalized tour based on existing 'collections'
  • Visitors can select one or more tours or create their own tours based on keyword searches
  • Is this intended for Docents or Visitors to use? This needs to be easy for both the docent and the visitor cause if the docent can't even use it, then the visitor certainly won't either. [DIA]

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