Designing Museums for Moments

Designing for museums involves more than simply creating exhibits. It is also about crafting engaging, immersive experiences that empower children, support caregivers, and foster genuine connections. By prioritizing opportunities for exploration and incorporating adult-sized comforts that encourage shared experiences and successes, museums become spaces where families embark together on adventures of learning and discovery.

Kaleideum, a new experiential learning museum in Winston Salem, NC, was created through the merger of the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem and SciWorks, a local science center. When designing a guest experience plan, Roto worked with the team to combine their two missions by developing exhibits that blend science, literacy, and arts education while igniting imaginations. Roto also tapped into the extensive professional and lived experience of Kaleideum’s staff to develop a unique experience plan that elevates the guest experience by creating opportunities that turn visitors, both children and caregivers, into heroes of their adventures within the museum, and moments into memories.

Across 18,000-square-feet, six galleries, and 97 different exhibits, Roto accomplished this by creating exhibits that invite extraordinary full-body explorations of their environment in highly tactile, relatable ways. Kids can create a spectacle of light, movement, and vapor in a full tunnel of fog, capture each other’s leaps and kicks with a 270-degree camera, and code their best choreographed dance.

By developing playful, open-ended, multiplayer interactives that allow kids to “win” their experiences, they are empowered to take charge of their learning journey. Whether it’s solving puzzles, conducting experiments, unleashing their creativity, or zooming in on the details, every interaction is designed to help young visitors to explore and discover enchanting phenomena.

Importantly, the team included parents and caregivers in this hero narrative. Developing a museum space for families means not only supporting the needs of children but also creating moments of shared discovery that celebrate and support the caregiver relationship. At Kaleideum, this is achieved through intentional design choices such as including ample seating, nearby charging stations, informational aids to help facilitate shared programming with their child, and even clear visual lines to allow caregivers to easily keep an eye on little ones.

When creating the physical space as the foundation, Roto’s exhibit designers extended the goal of these spaces to prompt opportunities for emotional connections in young learners and caregivers alike. These shared experiences foster bonds that strengthen relationships and create lasting memories – one of the most important goals of all in museum experiences.

Kaleideum Water Table by Roto
Kaleideum exhibit by Roto
Kaleideum Immersive Media Exhibit by Roto
Kaleideum Interactive Exhibit by Roto