Visitor’s Choice Interpretation

Hidden Treasures: An Experiment Detroit Institute of Arts, 2012-2013
Consultation, Research, Concepts, Planning, Design, Graphic Design, Implementation, Fabrication, Installation

The exhibition Hidden Treasures: An Experiment, began with eight paintings. These particular works were chosen for conservation and further study, after years in the DIA’s storage. Researchers discovered fascinating new information about the paintings. However, only a few sentences of that knowledge could appear on a museum label. That’s where Flutter & Wow came in, to design a way for the museum visitor to play a role in the interpretation of the art.

First, DIA faculty wrote labels about two aspects of each of the eight paintings. We presented these labels in custom, free-standing reader rails. Then we invited visitors to examine the paintings, juxtaposed with the two variations of label text. Using colorful little pompoms, visitors cast a vote for which label they preferred for each painting. Visitors were asked to think about the story of each painting. Which of the two labels did they find most interesting? Which told the story of the painting the best way? Finally, after votes were tallied, Hidden Treasures reopened as a regular exhibition. Labels featured the winning stories.

This exhibit required a unique two-phase participatory experience in order to produce the final labels. Flutter & Wow worked closely with DIA to create an experience visitors of all ages could enjoy, at any point during the two-phase experiment. We also supplied gallery layout and graphic design.