Museum Studies Blog

Posted on June 10th, 2024 in Alumni, Student Work by jachigg | Tags:


Jake evaluating a visitor's experience in Spark!Lab (without the audio equipment)

Jake evaluating a visitor’s experience in Spark!Lab (without the audio equipment)

I stood in the entryway, covered in recording equipment that made me look like some kind of robot. The Spark!Lab exhibit had just opened at Conner Prairie, and it was my responsibility to convince visitors to the museum to allow me to record their visit so that we could prove that Spark!Lab was valuable to both the museum and to the visitors, albeit in different ways. I knew that the museum was hoping that Spark!Lab would be a place where visitors would start to see the world from the perspective of an inventor, where failure is just a stepping stone on the path to success, where the process is more important than the product. I also knew that for the visitors, they usually just wanted to have fun, and wanted to be able to spend the day together. The difficult task was convincing visitors to allow me to walk through the exhibit with them; a stranger asking to share your time is a hard enough ask without the equipment on.

Spark!Lab was created by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian, and Conner Prairie, as the first Smithsonian affiliate in Indiana, had agreed to evaluate the Spark!Lab at Conner Prairie. Many of the other smaller affiliates would not have the time or resources to investigate how effective the exhibit was outside of the Smithsonian, and so it was my job, as an evaluator at Conner Prairie, to make sure that the exhibit would work not only for us, but also the other smaller institutions that we represented. So there was not only a lot riding on this evaluation, but it was also going to be difficult, looking like a cyborg. Not to mention that I had just started there as an intern.

To find out how the study went, or more about my time as a professional at Conner Prairie or elsewhere, follow this link to my LinkedIn, where I have posted the portfolio of my major works.

Full Portfolio Link:


Jacob Higgins (He/Him) received his MA in Museum Studies from IUI in May 2024.