Important things to remember

The exhibit is inviting
The exhibit needs to look interesting enough to invite someone to stop and spend some time with it. The topic should be interesting and the look of the exhibit should be inviting.

The navigation of the exhibit is understandable
This is probably the most difficult thing to get right, and is what we spend lots of time tinkering with. The user must be able to understand what they should do to get the exhibit to “work”. If the navigation is not clear, then the visitor will, at best, think it is a confusing exhibit, and at worst, will think that they are stupid for not being able to figure it out.

The exhibit invites exploration
The exhibits we find most interesting and successful invite open-ended “messing about” with several possible outcomes. A great deal of learning takes place when visitors are allowed to discover things for themselves. If the exhibit has a “right” answer at the end, then there are two problems; there’s a “right” answer, and there’s an end.

The exhibit inspires interactions among visitors
An exhibit that is designed so that more than one person can interact with it and with each other is more successful than an exhibit that can be used by only one person at a time. One of the goals of this collaboration is to inspire family and peer interactions, and the exhibits can be created with that in mind.

The content of the exhibit is accurate
Sounds absurd, but it’s common for an exhibit to simplify a concept to the point of presenting it incorrectly. This is a problem most when people try to present big complicated topics in an exhibit, and then discover that they need to simplify them.

The exhibit is accessible to people of varying ages and development
This is very tricky and very important. The best scenario is that the exhibit is interesting to a child, to a teenager, to an adult, to a developmentally-challenged pre-teen, to a… you get the idea. A really good exhibit can appeal to people with a wide variety of previous experiences, ages, ethnicity, etc.

A visitor can take something away
No, not handouts. Ideally a visitor walks away with something to think about. If we can relate the content of the exhibit to something in a visitor’s own life, so much the better. Often a good exhibit doesn’t actually impart any hard information, but instead lets the visitor make connections with other exhibits, other phenomena, (in our case) books, and past experiences. This can happen while the visitor is interacting with the exhibit, or it can happen two months later.