Recently, my husband, Jeremy, and I visited a museum that had undergone a major building project in the past 10 years. The wayfinding was abysmal.
First, the entrance lobby. It was an impressive space. But nothing told us where to go for tickets. There were some people sitting at tables, but no sign that said “tickets” or “admissions.” We had to guess.
With tickets finally in hand, we passed through security and entered the museum. While we were interested in the museum overall, there was one special exhibition in particular we wanted to see. The floor plan provided noted where all the temporary gallery spaces were . . . but no mention of what the temporary exhibitions were, or where to find them. Now I have no problem with a museum saving money by not changing their printed floor plans every time there is a new exhibition, so long as there is good signage or an insert that says where the temporary exhibitions are located. In this case, however, we were provided neither.
So we asked, and were told the exhibition was on the second floor. We went up a floor and stood looking at the floor plan . . . and still had no idea how to get to the exhibition. Jeremy works in affordable housing and reads floor plans every day. I am no slouch in this department either. The printed floorplan seemed to have no relation to the reality in the building. And signage? Once again, forget about it.
We eventually stumbled across the exhibition, which had some really, really cool objects in it. But no coherent storyline telling us why all of it was important.
Both of us became so frustrated that after visiting the exhibition, despite being interested in the rest of the museum’s contents, we decided to leave. Walking out, Jeremy said “thank goodness we didn’t pay for these tickets . . . I would have been mad.”
I don’t think this museum means to make its visitors mad. Or even frustrate them. I just think they don’t care enough about their visitors to make the visit enjoyable. And that may be even worse.
Have you had a terrible wayfinding experience somewhere? What made it so frustrating? What would have made it easier? To share, simply click on “comments” below. (If you are reading this from your e-mail subscription to the blog, please go to our blog's website to add a comment.)