An art museum houses an amazing ceiling from the Zhihua Temple, built in the 1400s. This beautifully carved, highly detailed ceiling is 25 feet above ground and cannot be lit without damaging the structure. We created an interactive that allows visitors to see the ceiling in detail never before available.
Grand information in a small device
The museum did extensive research before bringing us onboard. Through an iterative process that included meetings, phone calls and visits to the space, we were able to help them choose the best hardware and scale their content to fit the iPad screen size. We took their initial user testing feedback and style guides and enhanced an existing prototype, designing the final version of the interactive.
The interactive has two views, overhead view and lap view. The balance of overhead view to lap view was an ongoing discussion and we worked alongside the museum to determine what content visitors accessed in each view. Overhead view allows visitors to explore the beauty of the ceiling on a surface level while lap view offers a deep dive into the interactive’s content. We wanted users who don’t want to or can’t hold the iPad above their heads to have an accessible mode that retains all interactive information.
We worked with the curatorial team to determine hot spots on the ceiling images to give key information – such as background information on the large dragon carved into the ceiling.
The User Experience
During user testing, we learned that users didn’t understand how to use the iPad to view the ceiling, so we created an animation to encourage people to lift the iPad above their heads to start the 3D ceiling view.
Visitors access the interactive on iPads in custom cases fabricated for easy holding, to support freedom to move around with the device. We mimicked the basic functionality of another interactive in the same wing, so that users don’t have to learn a new interface.
By experimenting with new interactive methods, an otherwise hard-to- see object has become illuminated for an audience that may otherwise never realize what lies above their heads.