A 3D Map for Your Museum

Posted October 28, 2014

This is a situation that you might find yourself in quite often. You are at a museum — in this example a history museum — and the goal is to make it from the geological section to the dinosaurs. But how does one get there? The geological wing was built in the 19th century, and the new dinosaur exhibit was sponsored by some real estate mogul in the mid 1970s. The pathway in-between is anything but straightforward. You pull out your trusty map, unfold the twelve sheets, try to hold it in two hands while orienting yourself against whatever is around you. Is that the moon rock or the igneous?

Once you find where you are in the 2D world, you spin and twist the map to find a path that will lead you to the feet of the T-Rex or the tail end of the Brontosaurus. Inevitably, questions arise at each corner. Is this the right way? Is that the red or blue or yellow gallery on this map? Wait, I thought we were walking away from the Hall of Evolution?

You might think, as Dutch graphic designer Marjin van Oosten did, that there is a better way. When she was in school, she came up with a concept for a 3D plan of an interior. Her first test-case was for a building at her university and when the Rijkmuseum wanted something to give away to special visitors, her design won. Now her folding map is available for free to every museum visitor and has just won an award at Dutch Design Week.


We write a lot about innovation in the museum space on our blog. Normally we focus on technology and interactive exhibits. But this simple device that aids overall immersion into the museum can open new avenues for visitors. If one’s attention is not distracted by being lost or being frustrated trying to find their way around, new touch points can be created that further engage the visitor.

File this one under “Small Things that Make a Big Impact.” Fast Company published a web article on van Oosten’s design and alluded to the creation of a 3D map of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a local museumavore, I’m in favor.

Ian Lewis Campbell

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