THE CONVERSION POINT
A museum is more than a collection of interesting objects.
A memorial is more than a heap of marble or stone.
Each of these types of institutions exist to serve a greater purpose. Whether it’s the British Museum or a local historical society, these organizations create an experience that is meant to inspire some action on the part of those who visit them.
For many years, museums did not take direct responsibility for the conversion point between experience and action — what visitors did after they left the gift shop was their business. But today, some institutions are thinking differently about this key component of their missions, asking tough questions about how the conversion happens and seeking new tools to make sure that it does.
You are invited to help ask those questions using one of those tools. Here is its story.
THE INZOVU CURVE
In June 2014, UX for Good went to work on behalf of an institution with an undoubtable moral mandate for action: the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, final resting place for more than 200,000 people killed in the 1994 genocide. Aegis Trust, the organization that built and operates the memorial, wanted to make sure that visitors were offered not just a strong emotional experience at the memorial site and museum, but opportunities to help stop genocide today and in the future. So we sent a team of user experience designers to Rwanda to figure it out.
With the help of the Rwandan people, they did it. In their work the team made use of an array of resources, from experts on museum design to their own personal observations at the memorial site. But they were most inspired by the young people who visited and worked at the Kigali site. In workshops and curricula, portable posters and personal stories, the next generation of Rwandans are figuring out how to convert the story of one of history’s worst genocides into hopeful action in their own lives.
Carefully observing these young people, the designers developed a model the Kigali museum — and all museums — can use to convert profound emotional experiences into action. They nicknamed it “the Inzovu Curve” after the Kinyarwanda word for “elephant,” because the arc visitors travel resembles an elephant’s trunk. Visitors to a memorial or museum first descend into a state of (often painful) empathy with the victims of violence whose stories they encounter. Many institutions simply abandon them there; the Inzovu Curve instead advises them to provide additional experiences that lift visitors into a state of compassionate action. The model also identifies specific moments of reflection and transformation that will help equip all visitors to make a difference in the world.
WHERE YOU COME IN
Aegis Trust’s leaders in Africa and Europe endorsed the Inzovu Curve model as a way of inspiring action against genocide. But we believe it has implications for all museums and memorials, not just those that commemorate atrocities. You are now invited to further help test that hypothesis.
The team of designers that went to Kigali, including additional designers that have since jumped in to help, began visiting institutions throughout the United States and Europe in October 2014, observing the experience of typical visitors the same way they did in Africa. They’ve started mapping these experiences against the Inzovu Curve, simultaneously aiming to provide insights to the institutions they visit as well as to improve the understanding of the model.
The end goal: further understand the applicability of the Inzovu Curve model and help redesign museums for good.
ABOUT UX FOR GOOD
UX for Good is an effort to push design as far as it can go: past forms, interactions and experiences to complex human systems, and beyond attractive, effective and elegant to deeply impactful. UX for Good is out to set the edge, so non-practitioners can see the full potential of design and practitioners can do the most meaningful work of their careers.
The centerpiece of UX for Good is the Annual Challenge, launched in 2011 by Jason Ulaszek of Manifest Digital and Jeff Leitner of GreenHouse. Each year, a handful of top user experience designers from around the world are brought together to conceptualize and develop novel interventions that help solve complex, social challenges.