Bruce Wyman

Interface and Experience Lessons Learned from Museum Exhibits

lecture given at the workshop "online-archives: perspectives on networked knowledge spaces"

Bruce Wyman

Bruce Wyman

Media Files


Over the last five years, Nearlife has developed four very different museum exhibits that overlay virtual experiences onto physical spaces. Specific projects include the ‚Virtual Fishtank‘, the ‚MoMA table‘, ‚KidsRoom2‘, and ‚NetWorld‘. The ‚Virtual Fishtank‘ is a permanent exhibit at Boston‘s Museum of Science about emergent behavior that allows visitors to create and control fish in a virtual aquatic environment. The ‚MoMA table‘ was a joint collaboration with MIT‘s Media Lab in creating an interactive table top surface for eight visitors at a time that led to some interesting group dynamics. ‚KidsRoom2‘ was developed for the Millennium Dome in the UK as an interactive linear narrative for children in which a room comes to life and responds to the presence of children in the space. Finally, ‚NetWorld‘ is a permanent exhibit at Chicago‘s Museum of Science and Industry that delves into the underlying principles of how the Internet works through a number of unique interactive stations.

A number of technologies have been used to blend the distinction between the virtual and physical worlds - computer vision, RFID, physical devices with embedded sensors, and more. As the technology has advanced over time, the experiences and interfaces have become increasingly sophisticated and innovative, but the underlying design principles and goals remain the same. This paper, in addition to exploring those principles, includes a practical discussion of what has worked well, what could be improved, and what proved more difficult than expected.

Artists / Authors



Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication MARS-Exploratory Media Lab



Schloss Birlinghoven, Sankt Augustin, Germany


» http://netzspannung.…shops/online-archives


, Apr 23, 2003