Co-creating the new entrance at the Vasa Museum
av Susanna Nissar, Jenny Annebäck, Fredrik Bergfalk
Tags: Architecture, Service design. Employee experience, Visitor experience, Experience prototype, Flow design
Background: Many things have changed since the Vasa Museum was build in 1987, today Sweden's most visited museum. The museum has since seen a continuously increase of the amount of visitors, a more digitally mature public and a different security situation in the society. Hence, the museum is faced with new expectations and requirements that needs to be met in order to create a good and safe museum experience. In 2016 the Vasa Museum consulted Expedition Mondial in a service design project where the scope was to look at the holistic visitor experience of the museum. The entrance area was distinguished as highly important, as it plays a central role for the visitor both in the beginning, during and in the end of a visit to the museum as well is a work space for many of the employees of the museum. Together with the National Property Board of Sweden (SFV) and the house architect Pär Ahlbom, the Vasa Museum therefore decided to reconstruct the entrance at the museum. Expedition Mondial was hired to make an evaluation of the suggested alternatives for a new entrance, based on the experience, needs and challenges of both visitors and employees.

The purpose of reconstructing the entrance area is for the museum to achieve a better visitor flow with good accessibility, a pleasant work environment and a high degree of security. Within this project, the purpose of the evaluation was for the museum to understand how the different entrance alternatives, given by SFV and the house architect, was affecting and contributing to the experience of the main stakeholders (visitors and employees). Also to ensure that no significant needs where discarded and that the employees were engaged and involved in the co-creation process.

The project resulted in a co-created need analysis of the suggested alternatives, together with the employees, management and visitors at the Vasa Museum. The need analysis resulted in a suggested concept for the new entrance, accentuating guiding principles and stakeholder needs that a new entrance is proposed to meet in order to achieve a positive and improved visitor and employee experience. The visual need analysis and concept were given to the museum as a base for their continuous decision making process together with SFV and the house architect, on how to go forward in the project.
How did we perform the project?
The assigned project implied a close collaboration with the house architect Pär Ahlbom and Annie Wallér from Ahrbom & Partner, on behalf of the National Property Board of Sweden. A co-creative and explorative process together with the employees, management and visitors at the Vasa Museum lead to a deep understanding of the needs and challenges of the stakeholders in relation to both the present and the new suggested entrance. The process consisted of three main parts:

1 | To make use of the vast experience and competence among the employees we teamed up with them in workshops and performed interviews, in order to better understand their experience of the challenges with the visitor flow and work environment in the entrance. This helped us identify what challenges and scenarios to focus on in the next phases.

2 | Together with the employees and museum management we build an experience prototype of an alternative entrance, after closing hours. There, we roleplayed different visitor and employee scenarios in order to explore possible outcomes. This experience helped us understand and conclude important insights on how the entrance should function on a conceptual level.

3 | We also performed contextual in-depth interviews and observations with visitors concerning their experience of the entrance area. Among the areas in focus, we looked into how visitors would like to be met in the entrance when they have questions and concerns, how they move around in the entrance area during high or low peak as well as what visitors expect and experience in relation to carry on luggage in the museum.

What was the project outcome?
All along the project we have been working in a cross-functional team of architects, service designers, employees and management of the Vasa Museum. By continuously understanding and analyzing the experience of the stakeholders we stepwise co-created a conceptual vision of how the entrance should function in order to not discard any critical needs from either visitors or employees. The needs analysis and vision was compiled into a visual concept and given to the museum and the house architect as part of guiding material for decisions on how to continue the reconstruction project.

The visual concept came out as a great result for the Vasa Museum, clearly communicating the critical needs of the stakeholders and evaluating what different solutions could result in, helping them in their decision process. The employees and the management also felt highly included and engaged in the work, establishing good conditions for a future implementation of the new entrance.

How did our client experience our work?
You make sure that the discussion we have are prestigeless and are shedding joy. It helps us to move forward faster into making decisions. Looking back at the work, I also see that we have landed in a concept that we really believe in - and that is the best outcome!
- Maria Dalhed Persson, Business Manager of the Public and Pedagogy department, the Vasa Museum