New Museum Also Good for Your Health
Ali Hussam, director of strategic technology for the Youzeum, said the idea resulted from the constant changes in the content that drive a museum and the need to grab visitors' attention.
"How can I get a visitor to look at an item and say, 'Oh, I like it,'" Hussam asked. "Four to 12 seconds, that's all we have to attract them to the pods. That's the biggest challenge, how can you make usable information and not just look at it and say, 'Oh, I like it.'"
While the Youzeum uses the newest technology, keeping up with the interactive learning curve has been a challenge.
"When we designed in 1993, we didn't even have a CD player then," said Michael Szewczyk, a member of the museum's executive committee. "Think about when you got your first personal computer. Now we're able to incorporate high-tech things, all sorts of things, that couldn't be done before."
Each exhibit focuses on health and requires visitors to be active, while teaching them to recognize risky behavior. For example, a vending machine challenges you to know the contents of what you eat and drink.
Stacia Reilly of the Columbia-Boone County Health Department said customizing exhibits for kids and parents is another challenge.
"We're looking at implementing some kind of swipe-card system that would allow the visitors to put in their ages," she explained. "And then some of the exhibits would change, depending on the age of that person."
The Youzeum is in the former Federal Building at the corner of 6th and Cherry streets in downtown Columbia.