6.3. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Exhibit Design

6.3.1. Mission Statement

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh provides innovative museum experiences that inspire joy, creativity, and curiosity.

6.3.2. Philosophy: Play with Real Stuff

The Museum’s “play with real stuff” design philosophy promotes an organizational commitment to the use of authentic materials and processes in its exhibits and overall design. Intrinsic to this approach is a deep respect for the Museum’s visitors, and the belief that a well-designed environment that utilizes sustainable and quality materials, affords visitors, children and adults alike, a comfortable and empowering museum experience.

6.3.3. Design Principles

  • Design process: When designing visitor experiences, the Museum employs the design process of collaborative ideation, iteration, and reflection. Frequent prototyping of designed experiences is the essential characteristic of the Museum’s approach to exhibit development.
  • Sustainability: Sustainable practices that reduce cost and environmental impact of exhibits are implemented through the choice of products and materials, the intended use of the experience over its lifespan, and potential for re-use or repurposing.
  • Flexibility: Elements of the space (furniture, materials, tools, etc.) are constructed in a way that allows for varied use, reconfiguration, and repurposing. Museum experiences encourage flexible thinking and allow for emergent outcomes, where visitors are encouraged to experiment, discover and determine their own path of exploration.
  • Universal Design & Accessibility: Applied to museum experiences, universal design is the design of components and environments that are usable by all people without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universal design principles are integrated into all exhibit design, including hands-on interactive components, signage, and programming.
  • Multi-Layered: Visitor experiences at the Museum are designed to allow for repeated and varied use by visitors. Exhibits enable frequent visitors to experience familiar exhibits anew, and encourage visitors of any age to engage in experimentation and discovery.
  • Shared Experience: Experiences designed by the Museum purposefully encourage a shared interactive experience between visitors. This sharing is often between parents and children or among visiting children of diverse ages.
  • Simple and Intuitive: The Museum works to create exhibits that, through simple and straightforward design, enable intuitive engagement and use by visitors of all ages. This becomes a functional as well as aesthetic principle of practice, allowing the Museum to keep instructional signage to a minimum, and as a result, broaden visitor interpretative use and accessibility.
  • Tough Enough: Designed for the explicit audience of children and families, all exhibit elements within the Museum are built to be robust and able to withstand extensive and aggressive visitor use.

6.3.4. Original Document

These principle and a history of the museum can be found on the following document supplied by the Museum: History and Design Philosophy Handout - CMP.pdf