Over at the American Museum of Natural History yesterday

at the American Museum of Natural History

I visited the American Museum of Natural History for the first time yesterday, and it was scary. I think the second time will seem elementary but until then I can only speculate. Part of the problem may have been coming in through the back. But even still it shouldn’t haven been so confusing. I didn’t know what to expect or where I could go. For a while walking around was disorientating, and I never knew when I needed to pull out my ticket to show that I had paid for the general things. The map should have been a help, but it failed for one simple reason. There was no way to know where you were at any given moment. A really simple indication would have been to mention on a wall whether it was N, E, S, W. Ok, maybe not on every wall, but enough that I could flip the map in the right direction. Colour would have worked just as well.

After battling the confusion about where to walk, the actual viewing experience was a pleasure. Seeing animals and bones in scale really brought me back to childhood when you’d see those type of images in a textbook. Looking at them now gave me a really different view on it. It was easy to dismiss on paper, not so much when you compare it to real life.

The design geek that I am, I did pay attention to way things were displayed as much as what was displayed. Yes, I was interested in how the display interacted with typography as much as what the object was. It didn’t disappoint. I took a couple pictures here and there as I walked through, but the above sign caught my attention the most. It was so ironic, yet fitting. It worked b/c there was only one of them. If everything had been set like that it would have been lost. But since it was the only sign like that, it made me smile.

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  • http://flickr.com/photos/litherland litherland

    Oh, I wish I had known you were going; I would have loved to meet up (and it’s a good halfway point between our places).

    The Rose Center, a Polshek project, is one of my very favorite spaces in the city (along with Grand Central’s Great Hall post the renovation by Beyer Binder Belle).

    Exhibition design/wayfinding by Ralph Appelbaum, btw.

    Funny, I’ve never used a map at AMNH and I’ve never felt disoriented.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michael

    Sorry about that Caren – we were taking advantage of Tamara’s new benefits from work. I don’t think we made it to the Rose Center. Something to look forward to next time I suppose. Well if you had used a map, it would have been disorientating. Maybe that’s the thing – don’t use a map.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/litherland litherland

    Oh, does she get a free pass?

    Fyi, you did make it to the Rose Center. 😉

  • http://echowood.blogspot.com Adam

    Michael,
    I was at the AMNH a few weeks ago and saw that same sign. Do you think someone actually counts each person in the building and once they hit the 3526 person they pull names out of a hat to see who leaves? Also, do the models of cavemen count as people. They take up just as much space.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michael

    That’s a very good question Adam. I’m sure a man of your stature will get to the bottom of this and let us know…