Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An integrated exit experience: Santa Barbara Museum of Art

A question I'm frequently asked: "Can you give us an example of a well-designed exit experience?" Until this year, my answer was no. I hadn't seen one I felt really thought through the visitor's path, and took advantage of the right-hand bias as they exited. But I have now seen Conner Prairie, and their beautifully designed visitor center hits all the right notes. In this post I'm featuring a thoughtful store/cafe/family resource center at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which does a fantastic job of connecting the museum to the street shopping-scape. While not exactly an exit experience (I think you can choose to enter and exit the museum without going through this space), it's the best example I've seen making this cluster of visitor services really accessible to the public, and hopefully encouraging people to come into the museum itself. The pictures tell the story best.
This entrance is to the right of the museum steps, fully integrated into the streetscape. Some merchandise racks outside would help pull visitors inside
A bright, airy store with interesting looking merchandise draws you in.
Speed bumps like this merchandise stand slow you down and get you engaged in shopping.
Pretty, colorful merchandise displays pull you into all corners of the shop.
You can see the cafe and the Family Resource Center through the back wall, connecting these spaces.
Exiting the shop, the cafe is the next thing you see. The open plan is very welcoming and the food looks great.
Being in California, wine plays a prominent role in the cafe menu. The food was delicious and the servers super-friendly.
Steps past the cafe on the left is the Family Resource Center. A bright graphic panel shows kids having fun.
I loved the approachable language. I wish that all art museums would adopt this tone throughout their galleries.
A mother and daughter fully engaged in an activity on a Sunday afternoon.