© 2020 Abigail Sarver-Verhey




I reimagined these label rails for a natural history museum T. rex using the toolkit I developed as part of my thesis research on visitor-friendly design of evolution and ecology exhibitions. I am currently evaluating the labels to determine their efficacy.

This T. rex is the centerpiece of a natural history museum dinosaur hall. It welcomes visitors to the hall — and often the museum as a whole. Label rails provide interpretation of the fossil, but are dated in their interpretation and design and do not reflect the patterns in which visitors use the display.


This label reinterprets a panel on T. rex's diet, emphasizing a more contemporary area of T. rex research. The narrative draws visitors into information through the power of story, while the image illustrates the story for younger visitors.


Visitor feedback: 

  • "I like them because they have more images and more of a story instead of straight facts."

  • "Everyone knows about the jaws... it's telling you the hunting pattern, not just what everyone knows."

  • Visitors were able to recount facts from within the narrative: "Did they travel in packs? I didn't know that." 


to place 

To tie the fossil to visitors' local surroundings, this label revises a map of where the T. rex was found to emphasize how the T. rex was not connected to past local ecosystems.


Visitor feedback: 

  • "Pretty interesting that there was a sea and that dinosaurs aren't found in Philly."

  • "I like this one — it ties in the city."

common questions 

"Is it real?" is one of the most common questions visitors have about fossils in museums. This label emphasizes this question and provides visitors with a clear answer to it.


Visitor feedback: 

  • During evaluation several participants asked whether the fossil mount was real or not

  • "You came in thinking you're looking at the real fossil, good to know its a cast""


The touchable model label rail was among the most popular of the set, particularly among younger visitors. Revision streamlined the questions and investigative process to help parents and children move through it and explore the fossil more clearly.


Visitor feedback: 

  • "Just three facts I can glance at and engage with my kid at the same time."

preview the toolkit