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What did visitors think about the climate change exhibition?

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 07 Jan 2010

The Climate Change: our future, our choice exhibition was held at the Museum from May - August 2009. Two case studies gathered detailed feedback from teenagers; and an observation study was undertaken with general visitors to track how they used the exhibition and the total time spent. Here's a summary of our findings.

Climate Change Postcard 3

 © Australian Museum

Teenage Boys

A class of 13-14 year old boys were observed visiting the exhibition, and then gave detailed feedback using a list of headings to complete.

They were surprised at the exhibit that showed how much energy the human body could generate; they'd tell their friends about the energy-generating takes; they wanted to know why the exhibition was made from cardboard, how much it cost to build the exhibition; as well as:

How long will it be before [climate change] gets really bad?
How many species will be extinct in the future years of climate change?
Is climate change ever going to stop?
 

If we act now we can make a difference was seen as the main message of the exhibition.

Teenage Girls

A group of girls, the Eco-Warriors, were also invited in to the exhibition and after their visit were asked a series of questions.

What sort of things they are currently doing about climate change?
The actions mentioned included activities both at school and at home and related to energy saving, recycling, water saving, and sustainability. The Eco-Warriors had a well developed understanding of the issues and measures needed to counter the effects of climate change. Some examples of actions include:

  • Worm farm at school
  • Installing water saving appliances home and school
  • Recycling bins in classrooms
  • Air conditioning less or lower
  • Buy more durable things that will last you ages instead of less durable things that won’t last as long

After visiting the exhibition did they have any additional ideas for other things they could do?

The exhibition clearly provided the students with new ideas for action:

  • Buy more re-usable items for future use.
  • It aroused a sense of realisation that global warming and climate change will and are currently making a huge impact on our lives.
  • Eat less red meat and buy more locally grown or Australian grown food, rather than imported stuff.

What do you consider to be the main messages of the exhibition?
The main messages in the exhibition were considered to be:

  • Climate change is scary
  • Climate change will affect me
  • Climate Change is happening now

Looking at 3 particular exhibits what do you think we were trying to achieve?
Feedback on these three exhibits from the Eco Warriors indicates a good understanding of the intended objectives.

Flooding Sydney exhibit

  • It hit home
  • You could see for yourself
  • Personal – in 90 years this could be my house
  • Wouldn’t take much to cause significant damage by using other cities around the world
  • Realisation of scale and intensity 

World Leader interactive table

  • Interactive way to understanding government role 
  • What a challenge with leaders have or complex and difficult 
  • Global understanding of Climate Change
  • Effects of decisions made
  • Climate Change is an issue we all need to face as a species not individual countries
  • To empathise with government or it is not that easy
  • Climate Change cannot be fixed with money 

Energy dance floor exhibit

  • Show all ways to get electricity
  • Needs a team effort
  • Brings us together
  • You don’t understand how much effort it takes to generate electricity or demonstrates this
  • Climate change can be blamed on the boogie
  • Advancements in technology help us to combat Climate Change, worth seeing, hands-on activity, fun

What will you tell your friends about this exhibition?
The students were very positive about the exhibition and several asked if it had been designed especially for teenagers. They considered the exhibition worth visiting; they enjoyed the experience, learnt from it and would recommend it to others.

The climate change exhibition was really good and it is made so that anyone could  understand it. It hit home and if anyone had not been interested they would be after the exhibition.

Observation Study

Visitors were tracked through the exhibition and length of time spent noted. They spent between 30 sec and 40 minutes in the exhibition, with most wandering in without reading the introduction text. We found that the exhibition was not able to immediately engage young children. When parents entered, their children ran around and often headed to Kidspace so, while parents appeared interested in engaging with the exhibits, they were drawn away by their children. Little time was spent reading the labels and the majority of visitors visited only one half of the exhibition. The most attractive exhibit was the interactive table. Three visitors observed spent between 12-16 minutes at this one exhibit. It was a highly social experience where we observed that groups discussed the choices being made and their outcomes.

Postcard to the Future

Other feedback was solicited through the Postcards to the Future section of the exhibition, where visitors pledged what they would do about climate change. A selection of these are posted here.

Climate Change: our future, our choice is now showing at Scitech, Perth, Western Australia.