Course Info

Course Title & Number: Interactive Exhibit Design, IMM 470-01

Professor: Mark Thompson
Office Hours: By appointment

Class Meets: Fridays, 8:30 – 12:20
Room: AIMM 222

Course Description

Interactive and digital technology is transforming the experience of visiting and learning in a museum. This course explores recent trends in museum and exhibit design through lectures, discussions, readings, presentations and on-site visits. Working as a collaborative design studio, students will also design and build interactive systems for the New Jersey State Museum, one of the largest museums in the state. Located in Trenton, the New Jersey State Museum is home to extensive collections in Archaeology & Ethnography, Fine Art, Cultural History, and Natural History, and is also home to New Jersey’s largest Planetarium. In collaboration with museum staff, students will design systems intended to expand the museum’s message, enhance the visitors’ experience, and extend that experience beyond the walls of the museum.

Course Materials

The New Jersey State Museum

Exhibit Design & Storytelling

Collection Management

American Alliance of Museums

New Media Consortium


Course Requirements

  • Design Notebook & Class Participation – This course requires students to keep a design notebook, which will be updated and discussed weekly over the course of the semester
  • Vision Document – Students are required to submit a vision document as a roadmap for the design and development of their prototype
  • Exhibition Critiques – This course requires students to complete two critiques of existing “real-world” interactive exhibits
  • Field Trips – Students will be required to make two field trips to nearby exhibitions to experience selected interactive exhibits in situ

Course Purpose & Learning Goals


To familiarize students with the functions and processes of a real-world design studio.

Learning Goals

  • To apply skills in digital media production, writing, interaction design and programming to development of a system with a real-world audience and real-world implications;
  • To consider the challenges of designing interactive media for a group experience in a particular physical space;
  • To Analyze and critique similar software and installations;
  • To employ industry-standard tools as well as develop skills and strategies for managing a long-term collaborative project;
  • To learn to integrate skills, techniques and processes with that of classmates;
  • To learn to articulate and advocate for ideas in a collaborative setting;

Course Schedule

September 2 –  1st Day of Class

September 9 – The New Jersey State Museum & Collection Management Basics, Open Content & Big Data

September 16 – The Ethnography Collections, Mobile apps & Location-based Services

September 23 – Internet of Things

September 30 – Augmented Reality, The Sarnoff Museum

October 7 –  Natural User Interfaces

October 14 – Games & Gamification

October 15 – International Archaeology Day at NJSM

October 21 – Present Vision Documents, Guest Speaker: Barry Joseph, AMNH

October 28 – 1st Field Trip, Princeton Art Museum

November 4 – 1st Exhibition Critiques

November 11 – Open Discussion, Guest Speaker: Brad Baer, Blue Cadet

November 18 – 2nd Field Trip, Old Barracks Museum

November 25 – Thanksgiving Break

December 2 – Open Discussion, Guest Speaker: Josh Fishburn, IMM

December 9 – Presentation Rehearsals, 2nd Exhibition Critique Due

December 15, 11:00am-1:50pm – Final Presentations


Grades with be determined according to the following formula:

  • 20% Final Presentation
  • 20% Vision Document
  • 20% Design Notebook
  • 20% Class Participation
  • 10% Exhibition Critiques
  • 10% Field Trips

Note: Details of how each of the above will be scored will be provided at the time of assignment.

TCNJ Policies

The College of New Jersey Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace/Educational Environment governs the college’s commitment to and expectations of having an environment that respects the diversity of all members of the campus community. The link to this policy is: Under this policy, forms of discrimination or harassment based upon specific protected categories are prohibited and will not be tolerated.  If you wish to report a concern, please contact Kerri Thompson Tillett, Chief Diversity Officer, at 771-3139, or via email at