Designing Museum Experiences (DME) - Process

Designing Museum Experiences (DME) Process

Mark Designing Museum Experiences book Leave a Comment

Designing Museum Experiences (DME) - Process
Designing Museum Experiences (DME) – Process

Download the Designing Museum Experiences (DME) Process PDF

The Designing Museum Experiences (DME) process follows the five-part design thinking methodology of Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Each of the five stages of museum experience creation has a specialized tool and template for designing inclusive museum experiences.

01 EMPATHIZE Identify your user(s). What are their thoughts? Their emotions? How do they make decisions?

  1. Audience Research 
  2. Front-End Evaluation 
  3. Empathy Mapping 
  4. Personas
  5. Theory of Change Canvas
  6. Positionality

02 DEFINE What is the change you want to create? Fundraising? Increase attendance? Community impact? Define the goals for visitors/users.

  1. Stakeholder Analysis 
  2. Audience Segmentation
  3. Project Brief
  4. Lean Canvas
  5. Museum Cycle Canvas (Pre-visit, Visit, Post Visit, Return)
  6. Value Proposition Canvas

03 IDEATE means to “form an idea or conception of.” As you ideate, try to think without restrictions and create solutions called “what ifs.”

  1. Content Map
  2. Importance / Influence Matrix
  3. Bubble Diagram
  4. Journey Map
  5. Museum Metrics
  6. Community Canvas
  7. Context Map Canvas
  8. Conceptual Design

04 PROTOTYPE Prototyping involves recreating the results of the ideate step for testing. It is essential to develop low-fidelity prototypes early. Developing a minimally viable service or product can be tested with audiences, then iterated based on their feedback.

  1. Mockups  
  2. Service Blueprint 
  3. System Mapping 
  4. Schematic Design
  5. Touchpoint Matrix
  6. Preview Facility “Lab”

05 TEST At this stage of the process, you test and retest your ideas until the challenge has “actionable” items. An essential part of design thinking is getting out of the “solutions mindset.” Instead, think of the challenge as iterative steps.

  1. Design Development 
  2. Final Design 
  3. Interpretive Planning 
  4. Focus Groups 
  5. SWOT Analysis 
  6. Remedial Evaluation 
  7. Summative Evaluation
  8. Mission, Vision, and Values
  9. Task Analysis

The above diagram is version 1.0 of the Designing Museum Experiences process; please leave any questions or feedback below in the comments section. The Designing Museum Experiences book is available on Amazon giving free access to all DME tools.


Mark Walhimer is managing partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition design studio, the author of Museums 101 (2015) and Designing Museum Experiences (2021), and the founder of the Museum Planner resources website and Museum Courses online museum courses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.