© 2020 Abigail Sarver-Verhey


a relevancy-driven approach to communicating evolution

abstract Museums, and science centers in particular, present a unique type of learning experience; an experience that holds educational authority and credibility, yet is distinctly focused on being hands-on and enjoyable. It is this spirit of making what can often be esoteric learning into an engaging, personal experience that inspired and shaped the creation of Evolved, an exhibition on human evolution.


This thesis provides an overview of the process of creating Evolved. The theories and best practices of exhibit design are explored, as well as the state of evolutionary concepts and content in museums today. A concept narrative of the exhibition outlines its components through activity descriptions and design specifications, sketches and renderings, and label text. It concludes with a report on the formative evaluation of the exhibition.


The exhibition was conceived as an introduction to human evolution through a personal lens relevant to museum visitors. In the exhibition, visitors explore the ways evolution has shaped their own body over the past several million years through interactive components that examine the evolutionary history behind their bodily traits. Through these experiences, they not only see how evolution has shaped the human lineage over time, but also come away with an understanding of it as a science and a force relevant to their own lives. The development of this exhibition has spanned all stages of the exhibition process, from formulating a narrative and choosing concepts to explore, to designing and evaluating hands-on interactives that teach those concepts.