Q?rius @ the Smithsonian Natural History Museum

I’ve seen many Learning / Resource Centres throughout my travels. Q?rius is the best I’ve seen. Yes, I’ve said it! Why?

For me the attractiveness of Q?rius is that it is based on:

  • scientists themselves – real people and real stories
  • collections – there are 6,000 objects so far in Q?rious
  • a clearly defined audiences – tweens to teens (and adults too!)
  • audience research
  • a culture shift and buy in from staff – over 200 staff across the museum participated in the development and build (educators, scientists, IT, design, exhibits, etc)
  • a high aesthetic – it is beautifully designed
  • having staff to assist, both paid and volunteers (they have 230 volunteers on their books, of these, 90 are teens!)
  • minimal technology – it is there but only where it’s relevant and makes sense
  • post-visit participation – via the Q?rius cards where you scan and collect your own experiences (aka the Cooper-Hewitt Pen), making your own Field Book
  • flexibility – lightweight signs and everything on wheels, so easy to move around and change
  • trust – visitors are encouraged to handle objects carefully, and to self-regulate in terms of visiting in busy times

Audience research at the Smithsonian has shown that their visitors are most satisfied if they’ve had, what they term a “one of a kind experience”, and specific research at Q?rius has found that visitors say these experiences happen there.

So, if you’re in DC make sure you call in – it’s awesome!

Q1

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