Invasion of the Bloodsuckers: Bedbugs and Beyond!--A Summative Evaluation of VIsitor Response
The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History asked Ellen Giusti to evaluate visitor learning in its temporary exhibition, Invasion of the Bloodsuckers: Bedbugs and Beyond! The exhibition, supported by a grant from the SEPA division of the National Institutes of Health, focuses on six blood-feeding species: bedbug, flea, head louse, pubic louse, mosquito and tick. The centerpieces of the exhibition are greatly enlarged, highly detailed models of the six organisms. A text panel with images and information accompanies each model. Two displays contain live animals mosquitos and bedbugs. An introductory film at the entrance provides and overview of the exhibition themes and species. Two interactive exhibits provide hands-on experiences for visitors: one features an animation of the evolution of blood feeders' mouthparts, the other a fast-paced game where visitors zap attacking bloodsuckers to score points. Summative evaluation of the exhibition explores the extent to which visitors gain a better understanding of each of these blood-feeding species by answering these questions: What does the blood feeder look like? How does it get blood and how did that behavior originate? How does it use the blood it feeds on? How do we identify this blood feeder from the many harmless arthropod imposters? How can we protect ourselves from this blood feeder? Findings from this assessment of visitor learning will be used to help plan a future exhibition on vector borne diseases.