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Eye of the Beholder

This a museum exhibit that explores experience design through the lens of the Civil Rights Movement. 

My Roles

Research, Ideation, Experience Design


Problem Space

This project is a culmination of my experience design class. The team was tasked with creating a museum experience in a 30’ x 30’ space with no height limit. Our focus was that of engaging the current generation of high school students with the Civil Rights Movement. Our hope was to create a sense of segregation in the exhibit to further connect museum goers to those that suffered during this historical time. We gained inspiration from the Woolworth’s Sit-in (pictured above). 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of this event.


This project was entirely about designing an experience. During our initial brainstorming, we set parameters of high stress situations such as firefighters and historical events such as the Civil Rights Movement. We quickly narrowed in on the latter, but we wanted to keep in mind an impact on the present. This led us to the issue of segregation. We wanted guests of the exhibit to understand the type of segregation that happened during the Civil Rights Movement. At first, we explored the notion of arbitrary segregation but decided it may create confusion. The next iteration involved segregating everyone. Guests would perceive themselves as segregated, reach a turning point, and then reflect on the segregations. To the left are my initial explorations of this idea. I felt the exhibit should be a labyrinth to add to the defamiliarization. I also felt the segregated portion should only be allowed glimpses through slots. These ideas are carried out in the final design of the exhibit by creating a few turns for the guests and slots to view into the non-segregated portion of the exhibit. 

The Experience

With the notion of a small maze and the two separate zones, we worked on crafting the experience. We separated the exhibit into these two, distinct zones. The blue zone denotes the segregated portion of the exhibit where all guests are put through a section of defamiliarization. The red zone marks the transitional section where guests realize and reflect on the segregation. The beginning of the red zone is where guests put on augmented reality glasses and realize there is more to the exhibit than meets the eye.


The approach of the exhibit is where the defamiliarization begins. Guests realize they are not allowed to enter the premium section, and they cannot see what is really going on in this section. Once, they work through to the glasses they can then experience actual content revealed through use of fiducial markers and AR. Finally, guests reflect on the experience by having their former, segregated selves on one side and true segregation from the Woolworth’s sit-in on the other. 

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