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What does it mean to be human -  Kiosk at NMNH

Page history last edited by Mary Kate du Laney 11 years, 6 months ago

Project Title:  What does it mean to be human? Kiosk

Media Category: Interactive Surfaces

Museum/ Institution: National Museum of Natural History - Washington, DC http://www.mnh.si.edu/

Program Created:  Only date found on NMNH Calendar - March 17, 2010 - Launch of new website, to which the kiosk is connected 

Program URL (if available): http://humanorigins.si.edu/


Project Image(s) and/or Video






Media Source(s)/Credit(s):

Photos and video taken by MKdL 29 Jan 2011


Program Description: (150-250 words)

The "What does it mean to be human?" kiosk is located in the Human Origins exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History.  According to the exhibition website, “The initiative’s goal is to explore the universal human story at its broadest time scale. It seeks to stimulate new research findings that deepen an understanding of what makes our species unique and how we came to be.”  The kiosk is located near the end of the exhibit (or the beginning if you enter from the Hall of Mammals).  The rest of the exhibit focuses on the unique evolution and advancements made by humans throughout time.  There are examples of humans in various stages of evolution, including a kiosk and mobile app for turning oneself into an early version of a human through face-morphing technology.  At the end of this journey through evolution, the kiosk allows users to share their interpretation of what it means to be human, and can view the responses of others.



Firsthand or secondary review/critique: (150-250 words) 

I thought the kiosk was an excellent example of allowing visitors to take their own interpretation of a museum exhibit and share it with curators, staff, other visitors, and the world.  It was one of the few kiosks at the museum that did not have a line (most people were waiting to transform themselves at the MEanderthal station).  I enjoyed the combination of touchscreen for quick navigation and keyboard for longer data entry.  It would have taken much longer to type my response on the screen itself.  It was also rewarding to be able to offer my own interpretation, rather than having to accept one from a curator, tour guide or informational plaque.  It was also exciting to see keywords from other visitors that allowed me to click through their longer responses.  The fact that it can be viewed and contributed to using the internet post-visit makes it more appealing, at least to me, that my opinion and the opinions of other visitors are catalogued and able to be added at any point.  Finally, it was nice to see a kiosk/touchscreen geared towards an older audience, rather than videos and quizzes aimed at a younger crowd.


Technologies incorporated:

Touch screen combined with keyboard data entry, can also be completed on-line from website and viewed there


Internally or externally produced:

Internally produced 


Entry Contributor and Date: Mary Kate du Laney, 29 Jan 2011 


Related projects:  MEanderthal iPhone app (also available for Android)  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meanderthal/id370710977?mt=8

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