Whilst in Berlin I decided to visit the DDR Museum.  Billed as ‘one of the most interactive museums in the world!’ (ddr-museum.de) I was expecting an engaging experience but was concerned that it might possibly be a little tacky.

Designed to tell the story of East Germany, the museum recreates everyday life for ordinary people.  Every aspect of the museum is interactive.  The traditional exhibits housed behind glass panels, with a short obligatory explanatory text, have been replaced with cupboard doors to open, recreations of homes, interrogation rooms and even the ubiquitous trabant cars.

Information hidden in cupboards
‘Driving’ a Trabant car

No information is immediately on display, preventing a passive experience.  Instead information must be searched for, by lifting phones to hear contemporary audio, pushing and pulling buttons to discover literature or using digital boards manipulated by miniature busts of Lenin.

Interactive table and miniature models

As an adult the notion of playing with objects no longer comes naturally, and although unusual to begin with it quickly became natural and enjoyable.  I also found that my memory recall from this Museum (not just the experience but also the historical narrative), was far greater than at any other museum I visited during the trip.

The experience has really impacted upon the design ideas for my project and showcased how play can be imperative to creating an immersive environment.  Simple tools such as opening drawers to reveal objects and incorporating headphone jacks for pre-recorded audio files, could easily be incorporated into my work.