Stories in the Rock: A Design Case of an Explorable Image Viewer in a Natural History Museum

Marti Louw, Ahmed Ansari, Chris Bartley, Camellia Sanford


This design case explores the affordances of gigapixel image technology for science communication and learning in museum settings through the iterative development of an explorable image viewer to engage visitors in an archaeological exhibit. We reflect on the series of user studies, prototype iterations, and design decisions taken to optimize navigation, annotation and exploration in this zoomable user interface. We highlight a set of design precedents, interaction frameworks, and content structuring approaches, while detailing the development of a media rich digital annotation strategy to augment interpretation, commentary, and conversation about a petroglyph site. Through this work, we highlight the unique affordances of multiscalar image platforms to scaffold disciplinary observation and engagement with scientific content.

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