Commissioning a museum computer exhibit can be a confusing business. This page has links to documents written by a range of experts. At the moment a lot of this advice is from people I know. But if you know of some other good advice on the web let me know and I'll add a link.

Advice from me

If you want to install a computer exhibit, but haven't done it before then read this. This short non-technical guide will get you started.
If you're appointing external contractors to make your exhibit then one of the most important things is the brief you send them to say what you want. Here's a guide to what to put in it and what to leave out.
This document tells what equipment you'll need for a computer exhibit and where to buy it from. It assumes no technical knowledge.
Based on a document used by the Science Museum, London, this document gives a set of basic requirements for the development of exhibit software.
Games are a great way of telling stories in a museum. In this document I look at how to use games to tell stories and how to design a game to work in a museum.
During the development process its very easy to make your exhibit more complicated than it needs to be. This is a more discursive document which looks at why this happens and how to avoid the pitfalls.
Great video can really bring an exhibitions alive. But it's easy to make mistakes when you're commissioning it and it can be expensive to change afterwards. This document tells you what to watch out for.
Once you've got your computer you need to set it up. This fairly technical document tells you how to set up a Windows computer.

Gallery exhibits

Home page of the Tate Modern handheld computer tour. Explains the system, gives you a taster and some of the evaluation and research done during its development. A great resource and an example other institutions should follow.
John Benfield is New Media Manager at the Natural History Museum in London. He's written a set of guidelines for making museum kiosks accessible.
Gail Durbin describes the how the V & A museum in London used computer exhibits to facilitate learning. This paper goes through the whole process from analysis of visitors' needs, different types of exhibit and surveys on their effectiveness.
The British Interactive group brings together many people in the UK who develop interactive exhibits. Although their website is mainly concerned with mechanical exhibits there's a lot of good general advice.

Visitor studies

A Museums and the Web paper by Holly Witchey. She discusses what children like about museum web sites and tests some out. The kids don't mince any words - "It's not even close to exciting...".

Case studies

A great article which tells the real story behind the hi-tech Prada shop in New York. As you might expect things didn't go quite as smoothly as their PR made out. Don't let this put you off - lots of projects go very well indeed but they're not so much fun to read about.
Tim Hunkin created the Secret Life of the Home gallery in the Science Museum. Here he gives a wonderfully honest account of how he did it - what went well and what didn't. The gallery has almost no computer exhibits but this is a great account and well worth a read.


Information from the Scottish Museums Council. Well written and useful. If you don't do anything else then read the recommendations on page 7 of the summary report. Although designed for web projects the advice is spookily similar to my documents about gallery exhibits - which is nice.
This is a huge resource aimed at those developing on line "collections style" web sites. There's lots of good stuff here but I found it all a bit unfocused - it doesn't really address why you would want to develop a site like this and why visitors would want to use it.
Once you've got past the pdf file format these are surprisingly well written guidelines on making web sites usable and accessible.