• Hands-on_Meinungsdschungel_In Bewegung © PLANET Architects/Technisches Museum Wien/Klaus Pichler
  • Hands-on_Meinungsdschungel_Aufbau_In Bewegung © PLANET Architects/Technisches Museum Wien/Klaus Pichler
  • Hands-on_Meinungsdschungel_Planung_In Bewegung Planung: Hands-On "Meinungsdschungel", © PLANET Architects/Technisches Museum Wien/Klaus Pichler
Exhibition
In motion
DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTRUCTION

Hands-on installations: getting to grips with technology

Test
Remember
Another major attraction for all age groups visiting the Museum, alongside the exhibits in the Technisches Museum Wien’s extensive collection, are the interactive exhibits, or ‘hands-on installations’.

Five members of staff specialising in mechatronics, software development and electrical engineering look after the 200 and more hands-on installations to be found scattered about the Museum’s exhibition areas. Indeed, the field of hands-on installations has gained extensive expertise in recent years involving the design, development and construction of interactive exhibition elements.

What goes into the making of a hands-on installation?

Whenever a new exhibition is planned, we work closely with the exhibition curators to identify themes that might be suitable for interactive implementation.
The design process itself begins with a series of questions:
  • What sort of content do we want to communicate through the hands-on installation? 
  • Is the theme or topic sufficiently diverse for the hands-on installation to be used repeatedly?
  • Is it fun to use the hands-on installation?
  • Does the hands-on installation appeal to as many of our senses as possible?
  • Can more than one person use it at a time? Or is it intended to be used only by one person at a time?
  • Does the hands-on installation appeal equally to children and adults?
The answers to all these questions are incorporated into the specifications, which as the name implies specify the functions the hands-on installation has to perform. Hands-on installations need to satisfy very high requirements as part of a live exhibition. Indeed, it is not unusual for a hands-on installation to be operated more than 100,000 times a year. An additional safety analysis guarantees that hands-on installations do not pose any danger to visitors whatsoever.

Construction and pre-tests

A first prototype is usually built to test out the individual technical components. It is at this point that any adjustments resulting from the functionality tests are made to the software. The prototypes then provide the basis for the rest of the work performed by the designers and graphic artists.

The ‘In Motion’ hands-on exhibition was the first time that school groups and annual ticket holders were invited to test the hands-on installations ahead of the official opening. The valuable feedback we obtained was used to make further adjustments, ensuring that the hands-on installations were easy to understand and worked reliably.

Teamwork

At this stage a multitude of specialists is involved in developing and building the hands-on installations. The extensive co-operation with the Museum’s carpentry shop, graphics production and fitter’s shop is just one of many components deserving of mention here.

Evaluation

A comprehensive evaluation is carried out in the ‘In Motion’ hands-on exhibition in co-operation with our science partners. It studies visitor behaviour throughout the exhibition as a whole, but also with regard to the hands-on installations in particular. The hands-on installations are also fitted with counters so we can draw further conclusions about the way in which they are used.

To date almost 70 new hands-on installations have been designed and built for special and permanent exhibitions at the Technisches Museum Wien.
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