BodyWorks is a gallery refurbishment and associated education programmes from Glasgow Science Centre that aims to raise awareness of the science underpinning human health and well-being in the 21st century.
The BodyWorks project originally aimed to :
- Deliver 45-55, audiovisual, electromechanical and computer based interactive exhibits, including 40% new exhibits;
- Return a high turnout (1.8 million visitors over 6-years) and approval rating for BodyWorks and associated events;
- Develop a high level of engagement with research groups;
- Encourage a high level of family and cross-generational involvement in BodyWorks and floor-based research programmes;
- Increase the level of partnership working with NHS Scotland and other health agencies;
- Increase the level of peer-reviewed publications as a result of research activity making use of BodyWorks infrastructure.
Summary of activity:
The exhibition is a dynamic installation that flows organically throughout the whole of the 750m2 third floor of Glasgow Science Centre (GSC), taking full advantage of the bright, open, riverside aspect to create an immediate impressive factor. In this impressive space interactivity, engagement, fundamental biology and personal health & well-being are key to the exhibition design.
Bringing together research scientists, health professionals and visitors in a unique environment, the exhibition and its associated programmes will run over six years and aim to reach more than 1.8 million people.
Over summer 2013 and on an ongoing basis, we carried out 1:1 interviews with a randomly selected sample of visitors. We tracked visitors to assess dwell time and produced hot/cold areas maps. We also interviewed health professionals, for example Nursing lecturers and biology teachers.
What went well:
1.92% of the visitors surveyed rated the exhibition as excellent or good;
2.93 % of visitors (including medical/biology professionals) have indicated they had learned something new, often giving specific details of how they had learned from an exhibit;
3. Evidence suggests BodyWorks has achieved the aim of creating an exhibition suitable for both adults and children with the majority of visitors indicating it was also suitable for an adult audience;
What was learned:
1. Evaluation of soft outcomes such as changes in lifestyle (eg smoking cessation) is very difficult. Visitors who had already made changes (for example, those who had stopped smoking) indicated that the exhibits reinforced their intentions but it is hard to estimate the influence of our exhibits.
2. Tracking can be very useful to change the location of the exhibits but is time consuming.
PC based exhibits are fragile and a number needed high maintenance.
Top tips and advice for others
1.Test all PC based exhibits prior to 'going live'
2.The preparation of the gallery before installation highlighted a number of unexpected issues with the building and facilities. By working closely with our Facilities team and external advisors, we were able to find workable solutions.
Working with so many external partners required a lot of time and management. The two main issues surrounded - managing expectations and the fact that this project was not necessarily a top priority for the researchers. Some collaborators had very little experience of science communication and had unrealistic expectations of what was required, what constituted a quality interactive experience, or what they and we could achieve with the given time and resources. Most of these issues were overcome through developing personal relationships, careful management and regular and clear communication. We were also careful to have back-up plans for any exhibits/areas which relied on external collaborators.