Beautiful Science Summative Evaluation

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Resource Type:
Research and Evaluation Instruments | Interview Protocol | Observation Protocol | Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: 
Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits, Library Exhibits
General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | History/policy/law | Life science
Serrell & Associates, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World, a 2,500-square-foot permanent exhibition, contains more than 100 rare, important, and beautiful books and manuscripts from the Huntington's collections, along with artifacts and interactive experiences. The content focuses on the changing role of science through the centuries, with particular emphasis on some of the astonishing leaps in imagination made by scientists and the importance of written works in communicating those ideas. There were 52 exhibit elements in subject areas of Astronomy, Natural History, Medicine, and Light. Feedback on the open-ended questionnaire gave evidence that visitors understood the big idea of the exhibition; the majority of visitors who claimed new learning made a specific reference to an exhibit or area; and many complimented the beauty, organization, and creativity of the show. Three other strong points of Beautiful Science evidenced by tracking and timing were the high level of engagement by a wide range of visitors, resulting in a long stay time, and the lack of orientation problems. Discussion and recommendations included how to encourage visitors to use more of the elements, especially the audio stations and the Reading Room, and what follow-up visitor studies would be helpful. This report includes the tracking and timing instrument and cued questionnaire (interview) used in the study.

Team Members

Beverly SerrellEvaluator

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