Easy Museum Interactive Ideas

Easy Museum Interactive Ideas
People are bombarded with high-tech glitz every day. Sometimes simpler, low-tech interactives can make an even bigger impact and help you get your message across. They’re also easy on the budget.

Here are some simple, low-cost ideas to create interactives in your exhibits:

Flip Doors

This is a great way to display “then and now” photos. Do you have photos of downtown 100 years ago? Take a modern photo and mount it on the outside of the flip door and place the archival image inside. Or use the flip doors to create a simple quiz or a “Did You Know…?” interactive. I once used flip doors to cover up graphic photos of post-surgery leech therapy. (They have an anti-coagulant property that keeps blood flowing after reattachment surgeries, in case you were wondering)

Mail Box

Everyone loves mail! Create an interactive with reproductions of letters and envelopes that visitors can open and read themselves. Search your collection for relevant letters on the subject or in the time period of your exhibit. Reproduce vintage catalog pages or postcards too! I used this idea for an exhibit called Letters Home which featured wartime letters to and from our veterans.


There are endless ideas for coloring interactives. Find a black and white clip art line drawing related to your exhibition theme. Make copies and set them on a table with a box of crayons. Put a cork board on the wall nearby for visitors to display their work! I’ve done this with a glass and china exhibit (I encouraged kids to invent their own patterns) and a doll exhibit (I asked them to name their dolls after they colored them).

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a fun way to get visitors to look more closely at your exhibits. Make a list of things for people to find, or a set of questions for them to answer based on exhibit text. You can even offer a piece of candy or a small trinket from your Museum Shoppe for completing the scavenger hunt.

School Subjects

Research authentic math and reading questions or spelling bee words from a specific era. Create laminated flash cards with the questions and answers. Ask visitors to quiz each other as individuals or as teams.

Touch Table

Since museums are filled with things visitors can’t touch, create a special area where people can touch things. Materials will vary depending on your theme. But be clear that the items in that area are NOT part of the collection to avoid confusion.

Dress Up

Dress up interactives are very popular with museum visitors! Make replicas of vintage styles for kids (and grown ups!) to try on. Or shop the thrift stores for authentic garments and hats. Provide a mirror so everyone can see what they look like! Be sure to regularly launder the items to keep them fresh. And again, explain the difference between props and your permanent collection.

You Should Also Read:
Creating Worthwhile Field Trips
Museum Career Skills -- Developing an Exhibition
So You Want to Be a Museum Educator

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This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.