6 Billion Human Beings (6 millards d'Hommes)
of an Exhibition
Published on May 16, 2007, Modified on June 12, 2007
After seeing the online version of this exhibition, I knew that I needed to see the physical one as well. At the time, I was working for the Exploratorium and was lucky enough to be in Europe on museum business. I remember thinking to myself that this was the first time that I had sought out a physical exhibition based on something I saw online!
As the name suggests, the exhibition focuses on population growth. A series of interactive electronic kiosks along with artifacts (traditional clothes and other items from various parts of the world) help tell the story. The interactive exhibits were much like those I encountered on the Web site. What made them memorable was their emphasis on the visitor and the personalization of the information presented.
For example, an interactive exhibit would ask your age; you were then instructed to “Guess how many people were on Earth when you were born?” For example, by entering the age of 41 into the program, you receive the response, “When you were born there were 3,268,225,000 people on earth. It has increased since then by 103%.” A running total of the population count (right now at 6,669,641,000) appeared in the exhibit and on the Web site.
This simple, but powerful concept of placing the visitor at center of the interactive experience was a constant thread. Since the exhibit is about “us” (and our population problem) it makes sense that the focal point is “us.” More than that, visitors are always interested in themselves. This approach not only made the exhibition easier to understand (“we” provide the context), it made it more interesting (“we” are interested in ourselves).
Since I visited the exhibition, I’ve looked for opportunities to personalize the exhibits that we’ve developed. Obviously, it doesn’t work in every topic or in every instancebut when it does, and it is done well, it can help create a very compelling exhibit.