Design for transformative teen experiences at the Van Gogh Museum

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This thesis is the result of a graduation
project in the domain of transformative museum experiences. The project has
been executed in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum (VGM) in Amsterdam with
a focus on high school teenagers. The project aims to find promising ways to
facilitate museum experiences for teens that are both entertaining and
educational. Experiences that enable these teens to gain substantial new
insights, develop (new) skills and grow in their behavior. In other words,
experiences that enable personal transformations. Currently, many of teens
describe their VGM experiences as dull and irrelevant to their personal lives.
To address this, VGM formulated design challenges regarding interactive
narratives and suggestions for a multimedia tour (MMT) for teens. Within this
thesis, the context of those challenges has been explored. The following four
domains were analyzed; VGM, teens, interactive narratives and transformative
experience design. The insights within these domains led to the following
research question: “How to design for transformative teen experiences at VGM
while also designing a fitting interactive narrative and suggestions for an
MMT?” Two existing models were combined to ensure a holistic reference when designing
for transformative experiences. The first one, the Contextual Model of Learning
(Falk & Dierking, 2012) and the experiential journey (Bär &
Boschouwers, 2019). Based on the vision and requirements, six design iterations
were performed: two co-creation sessions, three individual creative sessions
and VGM expert meetings. The iterations resulted in varying loose ideas,
concept proposals, specific narrative content regarding Van Gogh and design
implications for an MMT at VGM. Results that, all together, enabled the
creation of the final proposed concept, Vincent & I. The concept describes
four perspectives regarding the transformative teen experience at VGM. First,
the experiential journey is presented in which not only the museum visit but
also the pre- and post-visit stages (in class) are considered. Secondly, six
different stages within the museum are described: introducing, exploring,
selecting, discovering, recharging and wrapping-up. Within this museum visit,
an interactive narrative structure was created. This structure consists of two
different narrative directions, four themes (determining the narrative
content), 6 “must-see” plus 4 “your choice” paintings and four narrative
elements: information, open questions, multiple choice questions and activities.
Finally, design suggestions for an MMT were made. These suggestions provide
examples for the visual and auditory elements needed to communicate the
interactive narratives. The concept was tested with 25 teens at VGM resulting
in insights indicating initial transformative experiences. This thesis is
concluded with a proposed initial design approach for future projects that
consider designing for transformative museum experiences.