Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Upon exiting the subway station and seeing the statue of Theodore Roosevelt, I immediately became flooded with memories of seeing the outside of the Natural History Museum as a child. I was always enamored by the size of the building and excited about revisiting the space center.

Natural History Museum

Right inside, not a lot had changed.

Natural History Museum

After buying a ticket I headed toward the first exhibit.

Natural History Museum

The hall of African Mammals.

Natural History Museum

I’ve seen these diorama’s many times.

Natural History Museum

And remember thinking, as a kid, how hyper realistic the scenes were.

Natural History Museum

After the elephants, I wandered through the Hall of African Peoples.

Natural History Museum

The colorful displays were very informative with easy to read descriptions.

Natural History Museum

The diorama’s in this hall reminded me of the ones in the hall with the elephants.

Natural History Museum

Although I still didn’t read through the entire paragraph, I found it easy to read with a nice font choice on a simple white background, lit up.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

To the point.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Nice description, perhaps a little too much text though.

Natural History Museum

A beautiful blue diorama.

Natural History Museum

With a nicely lit description.

Natural History Museum

Once I got to the Hall of Asian Peoples, strangely titled “The Lure of Asia”, I started noticing that the diorama’s started getting busy and cluttered with hard to read text.

Natural History Museum

Above is a picture of “The Georgians” display.

Natural History Museum

In my opinion, there is way too much text here, and the descriptions of each artifact seen at the bottom is so small and illegible against the strange green color chosen as a background.

Natural History Museum

The description didn’t even include text about what is in these little slim pockets on this shirt, which I found to be a drag.

Natural History Museum

Down the hall, things got sketchier. This window display had only half of the show lights working.

Natural History Museum

And this display features the text on the side walls, making it really hard to read.

Natural History Museum

When looking closer, it seemed like part of the ceiling fell down!

Natural History Museum

Hard to read text on the side wall.

Natural History Museum

More examples of text heavy and cluttered window design.

Natural History Museum

Oddly placed text with strange color choices.

Natural History Museum

Dense and text heavy descriptions.

Natural History Museum

Can you find the text in the window above?

Natural History Museum

Way too much text and very hard to read.

Natural History Museum

This display looks more organized but the text is hard to find in this case and they used a very hard to read color and font size.

Natural History Museum

I snapped a photo of this because I loved the way they played with perspective within the space. It’s clear and to the point with no need for much explanation.

Natural History Museum

To the left of the window above the hall looked uninviting and I wasn’t sure if I should even go down there. Exhibits were on display but the lights were off.

Natural History Museum

I don’t even know what’s happening here.

Natural History Museum

I couldn’t take a good picture without including my legs in the shot, but as you can sort of see, the blue lit up text is not lit up consistently and the text everywhere is cluttered and hard to read.

Natural History Museum

Moving on to the Eastern Woodlands Indians, which I mistook for the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians which is being renovated (perhaps that why I couldn’t find it), I noticed a few changes to the exhibit design.

Natural History Museum

An intense smell of a 1970’s basement hit my nose, and everything looked vintage.

Natural History Museum

One of the worst thing I found were these paintings of Native American’s by colonialists that seemed inappropriate because there was nothing in the exhibit that talked about all the horrible things the colonialists to them.

Natural History Museum

Another example.

Natural History Museum

I stared at this one for a while. It really took me into the space.

Natural History Museum

Right around the corner, the Hall of Pacific Peoples, had a very different feel. As I began thinking about the museum as a history of exhibit design I certainly felt like this was a newer and included more information about each object.

Natural History Museum

A glimpse down the hall where everything was well lit and inviting.

With all of this in mind, and with respect to the Hall of Asian Peoples, I would certainly make some changes. There were so many wonderful things on display but too many missed opportunities to explain their relevance and describe the history behind it in a clear way. A general renovation of the space surrounding the windows allowing visitors to walk through inviting, well lit spaces would be beneficial. Including some aspects of interactivity might make it more fun for kids. I would also change the font, colors, and font sizes on almost all of the windows making it easier to obtain information about what’s in front of you. To break it down:

  1. Renovate the halls to allow better light for the flow of movement for visitors and to highlight each window.
  2. Change the color of background walls and font style, color and size.
  3. Add an interactivity element to engage younger visitors
  4. Simplify the body of texts for each window and put windows into a series together that make sense in a narrative.

Before I left, I couldn’t skip a visit to the big bang theater. The feeling of this wing was drastically different than the other exhibits I had just walked through. Everything was very “high tech” although navigating up to the theater seemed confusing to some people. There was a “no exit” sign at the bottom of the ramp down from the theater that people just flat out ignored, walking up the ramp only to be turned away from a security guard at the top.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum