Forms in context: Hybrid exhibit environments

We were tasked to create an interactive hybrid exhibit for an artist featured at either the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The Mattress Factory, or the Children’s Museum.

Building a physical model of the space as well as designing for a space shifts my mindset from designing 2D images in the Communications Mini and makes me think about engaging visitors in new and creative ways.

Mapping out Schedule

Thinking about Scheduling for the week

As I thought about my weekly schedule, I mapped out when I had meetings, prior commitments, and classes to understand where I could spend time on the museum. Most of my free time is during the latter half of the day, so I would plan accordingly to divide this time with my other classes assignments and deadlines. In general, I would have to spend most weekends working on my computer science lab homework and Thursday as well as Friday on other commitments. Time for this project would fall to Monday through Wednesdays and any time in between that I can designate to the project.

Visiting the Miller ICA Museum

The museum exhibit would take place in the Miller ICA first floor, so to start off the project, I visited the space in person.

Miller ICA Institute

Visiting the museum made me fully realize the scale and dimensions of the location. The space seemed large on paper, but it is actually quite small. Although numbers of the height, width, and length are useful, it can be hard to grasp how these dimensions scale in the space relative to a first-person view of the exhibit. I was able to get photos of people in the space to understand reasonable heights to place things on the walls.

Scale comparison with person

My takeaways from this visit are that the walls are tall, so I have to consider the height of a person when making a smaller-scale person. Also, that the space is not as big as it seems to be just based on dimensions.

Reading this article gave me some insights and tips on things I should look out for when designing my space.

  • People will read the shortest paragraph on a wall first regardless of placement, and 50 word paragraphs are an ideal length.
  • Visitors will not read every paragraph or label so be mindful of this when constructing a story
  • Test the space on the target audience for feedback and consider ways to alter the presentation of exhibits that don’t get attention with lighting, interactivity, line-of-sight, etc
  • Put the big picture idea throughout the exhibit and stick to one or a few narratives

Finding Narrative and Direction

Visit at the Carnegie Museum of Art

Analyzing the museum’s interaction and the way the works were displayed gave me insight into the space and improvements I could make.

  • Most of the exhibits had fairly simple interactions with mostly the visitor moving around and viewing artwork placed around the room.
  • Some of the exhibits featured video supplementals that told more about the process of the artwork or added immersion to the display.
  • The most interactive exhibit was Polar World in which visitors could enter a large igloo and view a reenactment of Inuit people’s home life. This gave me some inspiration to translate the same interactiveness and immersion to the 2D artworks.

Exhibit focus: Claude Monet

During my time at the Carnegie Museum of Art, I kept finding myself go back to the two Monet paintings on display.

Claude Monet paintings at the Carnegie Museum of Art

The artwork on the left is a painting in a series of light studies that Monet created, and the painting on the right is extremely large and swallows the viewer into a semi-immersive experience in a world without the immersive technology we have today. These two concepts intrigued me, and I wanted to somehow incorporate them into the digital interactive world.


Claude Monet was a french impressionism painter during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He was one of the founders of the impressionism movement, which aimed to capture a moment rather than strictly represent subjects. In particular, he is known for his landscape paintings and the ethereal quality of color and light featured in his works.

His ambition to study color led to paintings of the same scene many times with variations of seasons and light. He wanted to capture how light and reflection affected the perception of reality, and he created works that studied this for a major portion of his career. Some of his notable light study series are haystacks (1890–91), paintings of the Rouen Cathedral and the paintings of water lilies in his garden in Giverny that occupied him continuously for the last 20 years of his life.

Immersion in Monet’s Artwork

“Imagine a circular room, whose walls are entirely filled by a horizon of water spotted with these plants. Walls of transparency — sometimes green, sometimes verging on mauve. The silence and calm of the water reflecting the flowering display; the tones are vague, deliciously nuanced, as delicate as a dream.”

I found this quote of his to be quite fascinating as this hints to his attention to experience in relation to his artworks. He wanted to create an experience in which the viewer is submerged in the artwork and achieved this through scale and placement. Now, there are more digital technologies that can bring this effect to a grander reality, and I wanted to explore this concept.

Rouen Cathedral Light study

I remember viewing some of his light study works in other museums and wishing that there was a way to easily compare the similarities and differences between each variation. The physical distance of these works on display from eachother hinder the ability to view them as a set. This was another point that made me think about how I could mitigate physical limitations through the digital world.

Article on Monet’s color science

“But any person with normal color vision looking at this series will know: the bridge is gray brick, no matter what time of day it is, because the brain has evolved clever tricks to estimate the true properties of objects despite the rich variety of illumination conditions we normally encounter.”

Furthermore, Monet uses different colored brushstrokes next to one another and doesn’t blend them in, resulting in a phenomenon called simultaneous contrast. Simultaneous contrast occurs when the same color appears differently when placed alongside a different color. This made me think of the potential to merge science and learning with Monet’s exhibit.

Mood board

Mood board for Monet Exhibit

Reflection on Mood Board

Upon looking at Monet’s works as a whole, common trends were the usage of pastel or faded colors and a focus on the atmosphere with variations in time of day. The ethereal effect of his paintings complement white and pastel colors such as blue, beige, and green in the environment. Because his paintings focus on the effect of the sun, cream undertones to the color palette would enhance the warmth in the space.

Moreover, since Monet paints landscapes, I thought of using natural elements as materials within the space like unpolished wood, light-colored stone, or glass. Working with light and reflection from glass would also hint to the fascination Monet had with the phenomenons as he spent most of his career trying to capture them in his paintings. Also, high-contrasting typefaces would translate the landscape paintings well as the delicacy would be represented in the thin strokes of the font and the depth of complexity would be represented in the contrast between thick and thin.




  • Immersion—User uses gesture commands to enlarge the screen to encompass the whole room
  • Time Slider—Visitor steps on intended time of day slider and the projected painting changes in reflection
  • Color changer—User steps on intended color slider and a the background of a transparent layer of water lilies changes, which alters the mood.

Floor plan

Basic floor plan and elevations of Miller ICA

This is the floor plan of the Miller ICA. Creating the floor plan and elevations allow for further understanding of the technicalities in the space.

Flooring and Wall Swatches

Potential floor and wall swatches

Reflection on hybrid environments

In the increasingly digitalized world, many companies are replacing physical experiences with advanced technology. While many of these implementations benefit user’s convenience and capabilities, some fail to enhance the experience and even harm it. One such example, in my opinion, is the digitalization of control buttons in vehicles. Although the reducing of physical knobs and buttons simplifies the paneling in cars and allows for more options, I believe it makes usability more difficult for drivers. I think most people would agree that driving and phone screens don’t mix well unless the screen is properly situated in a location that allows for quick attention switching. However, digital control panels in cars are in a location that requires the driver’s eyes to stray too far from the road for too long. Adjusting simple things like air conditioning becomes difficult for a driver because these digital controls need visual cues and can’t be accomplished through any other sense. The lack of the sense of touch and reliance on the sense of sight becomes hindering to the user experience. Acknowledging and understanding what features should be digitalized and what should be left as physical experiences is crucial for successful hybridization.

Incorporating Tech

My initial ideas for incorporating technology in the hybrid exhibit were to use motion sensor to detect visitors’ movements and gestures. Upon doing some more research of new technology and the Internet of Things, I realized there is a myriad of technology in the world today that allow for even more innovative and interesting interactions.

The Physical Web

This video dived into the concept of the Physical Web. The Physical Web allows for individuals to interact with daily physical objects in smarter and more convenient ways by utilizing the internet through broadcasted URLs. For instance, people can use their smart phone, receive a URL from a physical map in a mall and get an interactive digital map that allows for further information about each store. This technology opens the doors for differing interactions between physical objects and smart devices that could be utilized in the Miller ICA exhibit.

Initial Interactions

Hallway with color changing glass panels—preps visitor with the main idea of the museum: light variations

Bridge with color changing reflections—Physical bridge with a mirror pond that reflects light from color changing LEDs. As visitors get closer to the bridge the light changes colors, which demonstrates the color changing element that Monet captures in his paintings.

Physical paintings in bridge room with interactive keycards — As visitors get closer to the physical paintings, information about the painting appears

Immersive and interactive room—Room of projected artworks that display different paintings from locations and times the visitor chooses. Visitor steps on location > triggers one projector to display a painting on one wall> visitor uses hand gestures to enlarge the painting > painting appears on all four walls > visitor can use floor interface to alter time of day & painting displayed.

Interactions using new technology

Glass that changes different colors based on electric voltages.
This glass changes vibrant hues with a few electric charge changes. Having this glass around the exhibit with altering colors would be able to emulate the changing colors of the sky at different times of day.

Gesture recognition sensors
This allows for the visitor to not directly touch a screen and instead interact with the open space around them. A screen interaction ties down visitors to a certain spot, and I would like them to move around the space while being able to control aspects of the environment.

Motion sensors for interaction
Using motion sensors to identify where visitors are located and adjust projected screens based on physical location using code.

Parti Diagram and Interaction Refinement

First Iteration of Parti Diagram


  • Make sure the visitor knows which way to enter the museum
  • Keep in mind the desk and sitting space for staff
  • Ideas in depth but maybe too complicated—small space so don’t try to cram everything inside & do one interaction really well

Revised Parti Diagram and Interactions

Second iteration of Parti Diagram

Revisions to space and interactions

  • Enlarged lobby space so that front desk attendant and visitors have more space to move around
  • Reduced number of interactions to simplify the experience—removed gesture control immersion (will be projected on all walls at the start) and removed interactive painting keycards that talk about the painting

Arduino Integration

TinkerCad code for color changing proximity interaction

The Arduino senses the proximity of the visitor and adjust the color of the led light. I plan on using this interaction to light up Monet’s bridge so the visitor can be immersed in the paintings while seeing the spectrum of colors Monet uses. As they get closer and farther away, the bridge alters hue to reflect the altering times of day.

Technical Drawing of Interaction

Further Revised Parti Diagram and Interactions

Third Iteration of Parti Diagram

Feedback on previous version of Parti Diagram:

  • Colors of led changing and paintings might clash in second room
  • Could make the process of learning about the artist more interactive with audio and projections that trigger as they enter
  • Third room needs to be fleshed out more (sequence of interactions, how its detected, etc)

Revisions to space and interactions

  • Enlarged bridge room to appropriate space for the physical content
  • Reduced number of physical paintings in the bridge room—having so many in one room is both realistically impossible (each painting is millions of dollars)
  • Removed light changing interaction on the bridge to prevent lights from interfering with viewing the painting
  • Decreased number of glass panels at the beginning for easier viewing

Final Parti Diagram

Final Parti Diagram

Final Interactions

Hallway with glass panel doorways and dappled light interaction— Visitor walks into the room and causes dappled light to turn on. As they exit the hallway they pass through several glass panel doorways which alters the light further. This preps visitor for the main idea of the museum, which is light variations.

Bridge with physical painting — Physical bridge that visitors can stand on and look at Monet’s water lily painting. Brings the visitor to the experience of Monet’s garden with both the Japanese bridge and water lily elements. This focuses on the physical world before allowing the visitor to see the changes that light and atmosphere have on it.

Immersive and interactive room — Room of projected artworks that display different paintings from locations and times the visitor chooses. This merges the first to interactions—light and the physical space—to give the visitor a full experience. Also, allows visitors to view all of the paintings in one of Monet’s light study series.

  • Visitor steps on location on the floor interface
  • Triggers projector to display a painting on one wall of that location
  • Visitor can use floor interface to alter time of day & painting displayed

Final Elevations

Elevations and Elevation guide

Reflection between architects and experience designers

From my knowledge, the difference between architects and experience designers stems from the subject of their creations. Both roles design with people in mind, but do so with differing scopes. Architects design physical buildings, floor plans, exteriors, and layouts to best suit the flow of people, catering to the potential usage of a location by creating well designed scaffolding for other things within the space. In addition to considering the person within the space, they must follow engineering guidelines and procedures to ensure physical safety of the people within their designs. On the other hand, experience designers are able to design beyond the scope of the scaffolding and beyond the scope of the physical realm. Emotions are the main focus of a experience designer, and they achieve this through manipulation of the physical as well as digital objects.

SketchUp Model

Top Down view of SketchUp Model
First Person Views of SketchUp Model
Water lily painting dimensions

Interfaces and text on walls

Locations of the subject in Monet’s paintings

Looking at some of the physical locations of Monet’s painting subjects and pin pointing their locations for use in the map interface.

Monet’s Paintings of each location

Locations chosen:

  • Monet’s Garden at Giverny
  • The Waterloo Bridge
  • Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral
  • Saint-Lazare Station
  • The Savoy Hotel, View on the Thames River

Monet painted these locations several times, some reaching over 40 paintings. These locations were chosen in particular because of the large sampling of paintings Monet created which would make creating a mock timeline easier.

Graphic Translation of Map and Clock Interface

The visitors step on the circles to indicate which location they would like to go to and the projections in the room change. Then, the floor interface changes to the clock which allows the visitors to choose what time of day they would like to see. Monet’s paintings then cycle to the desired time, displaying each of them for the viewer to experience immirsively.

Graphics on the walls

Lobby room and dapple light room graphics

Lobby graphics greet the visitor with the name of the exhibit and a leading line to the first installation. The first room contains the quote and the graphic icon of Claude Monet to give some context to the museum’s focus: light and atmosphere. At the end of the exhibit, the visitor enters the lobby facing the Carnegie Museum of Art logo and learns that they can visit the museum to see and learn more about Monet.

Bridge Room graphic

This graphic gives some context to the bridge room for visitors. It tells the significance of the bridge and paints a picture of where Monet painted most of his water lily pieces.

Physical Model Process

Physical Model Process

Final Physical Model

Final Physical Model Top View
Entrance and Context
Interaction Rooms

Photoshopping Visualizations

First drafts

Dappled Light interaction
Immersive room interface interaction

Some things to improve on for these visualizations is the realism.

Dappled light Visualization Alterations:

  • For the dappled light visualization, the light was not believable since the rays were too strong
  • There was not enough visualizations to describe the immersive room fully.

Final Visualizations

A walkthrough of the museum through visualizations

Lobby view
Dappled light room

As the visitor enters the room, a proximity sensor will trigger the lights to turn on, creating a dappled light effect. This preps the visitor to the concept of the museum which is all about variations in light. The visitor can then read a quote on the wall about atmosphere and light from Monet.

“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life..
the air and the light which vary continually.”

—Claude Monet

Transition hallway

As they travel further into the hallway, the dappled light will fade and they will walk through several panels of gradually more transparent glass. This adds another dimension of lighting by transitioning the visitor to the purple hues of the next room

Bridge room

Visitors experience what it was like to be on Monet’s bridge at his garden home and are able to look at Monet’s water lily paintings. As they turn around, they are given the context about the bridge and monet’s garden. This room also gives the visitor a peek into Monet’s physical world before the next room which dives into the effects that atmosphere and light have on the environment.

Immersive room interaction

As the visitor enters the space, they are prompted to step on this interface on the floor to go to a specific location. This signals a new interface to pop up that allows them to alter the time of day. So they can step on for instance sun rise and a painting that monet did at sun rise will project on the walls. Allows the visitors to go at their own pace through the paintings and see the direct changes of time and light on the painted landscape.


Presentation Reflection

One thing from the presentation that I did well was including the problem space by retelling specific issues with displaying Monet’s work in a traditional sense and then presenting a solution through the exhibit.

There were definitely aspects of the presentation that I could have improved, namely adding more animations to let the audience understand the interaction and walk through of the museum better. I think this would have been helpful for the dappled light interaction, gradient hallway walk through, and immersive room interface interaction. Another thing I notices other people had that helped in explaining the topic was having large blow ups of images to immerse the audience in the experience. Information and text wise, breaking down the text into smaller more digestible chunks either through animating different segments to appear on screen or through simplifying the information into phrases was helpful. I think overall, I could have smoothened the experience of the presentation through adding more animations and breaking down the text more.

Key points from other’s presentations:

  • Susan: scaling down dimensions of woodblock print animation to demonstrate difficulty of seeing details with the real dimensions as a problem space. Effective in both telling and demonstrating the issue to the audience.
  • Bryce: Actual tech implementation of interaction in room (animated water flow around visitors) and videos of the interaction animation through out the presentation. Gave a better idea of the actual experience in the museum
  • Jacky: Animations for all interactions of the people and how they would move in the space (Person stationed at interaction with the screen moving in cool ways to show the visitor molecules).
  • Christy: Well structured script, although mainly reading off the script, the language was sophisticated and made sense. Also animated the people’s motions (hand waving motion on screen causing them to paint on it) which gave both intrigue and clarity to the interactions.

Meta-Cognitive Experience

What motivates you? What distracts you? What keeps you engaged?

Answering these questions takes quite a bit of reflection for me. I think that learning about myself—my motivations and my distractions—is a journey that I have not come to the conclusion of. So far, I would say that my motivation comes from viewing other’s works, which sparks inspiration in me and makes me somewhat obsessed. Not only do these people become my inspiration, but they also become my role models. However, finding work that genuinely excites me is difficult and finding people whose work consistently amazes me is even harder. Often times, I fall out of love with certain artists and end up in a slump of not knowing my direction, but once I find direction, I have passion for designing and creating work.

Things that distract me are caused by my own will. The biggest distractions are my other classes and other obligations that I put myself through. Also, other distractions may be caused by myself becoming uninterested in the project or unable to dedicate as much time as I would like due to workload constraints. On the flip side, I think that the things that keep me engaged are the same as the things that motivate me. If there is some goal I work towards (like a role model) I will be engaged for quite a while. If there is no goal then finding motivation is difficult for me.



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