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Experience design is currently transforming the world around you. Visits to museums, malls, theaters, airports, and downtown streets are now considered experiences. If designed thoughtfully, these experiences captivate, immerse, and engage. Such experiences are ways to spend time with loved ones, create lasting memories, snap photos, and share moments. 

The DoSeum has always been a leader in experience design. DoSeum Design Studios now brings this expertise to new locations and environments in partnership with external organizations. Design Studios represents growth and expansion into commissioned child-centered design projects. Our unique brand of experience design engages and empowers all learners through STEM, literacy, and arts education. Our innovative designs focus on children from birth to age 11, creating a foundation for lifelong learning. 

The launch of DoSeum Design Studios began after the success of our first internally developed and designed exhibit, Dream Tomorrow Today. This exhibition was created as part of San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebration. As the city’s children’s museum, we used this opportunity to look to the next 300 years. In Dream Tomorrow Today, children were invited to imagine their desired future and develop the skills necessary to achieve that future. The exhibit was an incredible success with 180,000 visitors, far exceeding our expectations. 

Following this, we recognized the capability and skills we possessed in-house at the DoSeum. We decided to offer these services to external organizations whose missions align with the DoSeum’s own mission to grow curious minds, connect families, and transform communities through joyful learning and discovery.

Temple Children’s Museum

Our first client was a group of ambitious self-starters in Temple, Texas. They are working to create a permanent home for the Temple Children’s Museum. Our response to their request for proposals was successful, commissioning the DoSeum Design Studios to create the schematic design for the proposed museum.

We engaged stakeholders, community members, and school children in a series of community conversations. From these sessions, we determined key challenges in the community and isolated the most important elements of the museum. From these findings, we developed interpretive planning, created a floor plan with operational needs and exhibit content areas, created renderings and visuals of our proposed plan, and formed a detailed exhibit walk-through. These outcomes are currently being used for fundraising to help make the town’s dream a reality. 

PlayPort at San Antonio International Airport

The airport originally came to the DoSeum for inspiration for a gate that was to be transformed into a children’s play area. We encouraged the airport to use the DoSeum as the designer of this area.

We have since designed an experience that engages young passengers in San Antonio’s rich military and commercial aviation history, the science of flight, and potential careers in aviation. Through our design process, we transformed these educational goals into experiences delivered in fun and interactive approaches, just enough to “get the wiggles out” before boarding a plane! There is currently a temporary kid’s area at this gate while funds are being secured. 

Enchanted Forest at Methodist Children’s Hospital 

Children will be transported beyond the hospital to a safe and immersive enchanted forest where they can explore independently or collaboratively and use their imaginations to create and share their own narratives. It is within the mission of Methodist Children’s Hospital to recognize the whole child, including social-emotional well-being. From this mission came the desire to transform their atrium space into an immersive play and learning area designed by the DoSeum.

Families will have a space to comfortably gather in the hospital, starting with a playful “campfire” area where they may relax, build a pretend fire, or play musical instruments. Entering the forest, children will encounter hidden fairies, sounds and scents of the forest, and a digital art composition activated through gesture. Emerging into a clearing, children can create their own stories with a shadow stage and fort building.

The space is designed to use gross and fine motor skills as a form of therapeutic interactivity. Children will have a sense of agency through control of the environment, an unusual and uplifting experience in a hospital setting. The Methodist Children’s Hospital Enchanted Forest is currently set to open in Spring 2022.

Energy Model Fabrication

While these projects have allowed us to flex our skills in experience design, we have also built up capacity in fabrication. We designed and are currently fabricating a model for a municipally owned utility in Texas to explain the transmission of energy from the power plant to the home. The model will be highly durable and capable of being used by hundreds of children in the utility’s school outreach program. Children will dance to activate power sources, connect circuits as transmitters, and plug in building blocks to light up their own small-scale city. 

The Future

In our design work, we adopt a futuristic stance. Our specialized approach to experience design is tech-forward and rooted in evergreen and global learning skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and innovation. We believe in the importance of giving all children the opportunity to develop these future-proof skills to better address the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. A current ongoing project is to create the content for the children’s floor of a future-focused international museum. 

Experience design can bring us together in meaningful ways. It can transform the mundane into the sublime. Working with a variety of organizations builds capacity for more children to access and grow through the DoSeum’s signature model of joyful learning experiences. At the airport, at the hospital, in the classroom, there is always an opportunity for joy and learning when developers actively consider elements of experience design at the onset. The DoSeum Design Studio’s growing portfolio of projects speaks to the power and promise of spaces that are purposely engineered for young learners’ social development.

For more information, or if you have a project you would like to work with us on, please email Meredith Doby at mdoby@thedoseum.org.

Meredith Doby is the Vice President of Exhibits at the DoSeum. After receiving her master’s degree in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Meredith worked...