Thursday, July 21, 2016

Roadrunners & Research

-Anne C. Morgan, Head Curator

 Months of talking to museum visitors as we do strategic planning have shown that developing outdoor landscaping is one of the more popular future plans.  People are excited to continue learning more about the local plants and animals, and understanding the amazing natural world around them.

But what form will that take? The possibilities are endless, but we know people are hoping for easy walking trails, desert art through the Rainforest Art Project, and interpretive signs over the next five years or so.  All of these ideas have to start somewhere, and they are starting now!
Meet our local Greater Roadrunner, the inspiration behind these test panels!
Recently a roadrunner moved into the neighborhood and has become a regular museum visitor.  He's become very popular on our Facebook page and became the inspiration for the initial outdoor exhibit testing we're currently doing.  We know we want interpretive signs about native plants along our future trails to help people identify them, but what do our visitors want to know about the animals that live here?
4 different ideas to start discussing outdoor signage
A little roadrunner research has led to 4 different sign ideas.  Visitors coming out to the museum now can look at 4 different signs and decide what it is they like about each one, and what do they want to see that is missing? Do people want a map of an animal's range in North America?  What their tracks look like?  Fun factoids or just the basic facts? Single panels or ones you have to flip open?
Should panels include identifying animal tracks?
These signs have only been up about a week and we're already learning a lot! So far everyone loves the idea of identifying animal tracks.  But people are split down the middle on liking single panels and flip panels, and on flip panels that have a picture of the animal on the outside vs having to open the panel and discover what it's talking about.

Flip sign version one: open to discover what animal it's talking about
Flip sign version 2: see the animal before opening
Flip signs offer more space for info, when it it too much?

The feedback we get on the current ideas will help as we work with graphic designers and exhibit builders in the future to create outdoor exhibits that meet as many visitor expectations and interests as possible.