When I was in NY last week, I dropped by MoMA for a quick visit to the Design & The Elastic Mind exhibit. The exhibit is great, but I noticed an unexpected side effect to their excellent website: compared to the online experience, the show itself was a bit of a letdown.
Now, the show is great, and I’d recommend it highly – there are definitely some things that benefit from seeing them first hand, or interacting with them. The problem is just that the website is so good, so well designed and so interactive, that by contrast the actual show almost suffered in comparison.
If you haven’t been to the site, go – it immerses you in all the different exhibits and lets you play around in lots of different ways that are very un-museum-like. The actual museum show, though, is constrained by all the physical limits imposed by any museum show: you can’t touch or interact with most of it. This makes sense – obviously you can’t have thousands of tourists banging up your displays everyday – but it means that in comparison, the show can feel static, slightly lifeless, and very much like… well, like a museum show. It’s an interesting challenge – one I’m sure was difficult for the curators – because good design is by its nature interactive to some degree, yet a museum show forces you to view something from a removed perspective.
Then again, I have a feeling that if I’d seen the show first I’d have loved it and raved about it, and then seeing the website after would have just been an even more impressive bonus. But perhaps I wouldn’t have been excited to see the show in the first place had it not been for the excellent website?
Something to noodle: as we plan transmedia brand experiences, we need to keep in mind how the order in which things are experienced can seriously affect the expectations of what comes next – and yet we usually can’t control what order that experience does, in fact, happen.