The museum can determine the visitor’s experience by how they choose to design the exhibition. They can choose to confront the visitor and make them uncomfortable such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Field to Factory exhibition in 1987 as Falk mentions. Or they could choose to make the visitor comfortable by designing the exhibit in a familiar format and setting. By making this decision, the visitor experience has already been influenced. Making people uncomfortable in the museum setting can be a risky move. The Field to Factory exhibit forced people to choose which term of racial identity described them. Most people do not enjoy feeling uncomfortable when in a museum setting especially if they are viewing something they do not understand. They may decide to leave early rather than view the exhibit; however, this tactic could deepen the experience of the visitor by changing the way they always view museums. They could challenge themselves to participate in unfamiliar experiences.
The deeper the experience for the visitor the more likely they are to remember their visit in years to come and to return. It is important to make visitors feel as if they are valued customers. The exhibition should be audience-centered. If the exhibition focuses on children, the signage and labels should correspond to their target audience. The same goes for a target audience of academic adults, the labels should reflect the higher education level; however, the museum should still not use a great deal of technical jargon for the lay-people who decide to visit, to ensure they still take away something from their exhibition.
Attempting to relate to the visitors as individuals rather than a group may create a more meaningful experience for them. People in America are very individualistic and self-serving. Addressing the people this way could emphasize this aspect of our culture; however, it could give the visitor the opportunity to associate themselves with the museum on their own personal interests. The next step could be to give tools to connect people to one another. This could be accomplished through interactive activities or scheduled discussion groups.
These decisions on design can influence the museum visitor’s experience either positively or negatively. It is impossible to tell how each person’s experience will go. A museum professional can only guide the visitor to the best experience; it is up to the person on what they are going to make of it.