Safari Adventure: Designing & Evaluating for Better Connections to Nature (poster)
This resource showcases a conference poster that the Wildlife Conservation Society presented at the 2014 Visitor Studies Association Conference and the 2014 Inclusive Museum Conference, outlining the work we undertook to explore the development of a proposed new family exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, "Safari Adventure," paired with selected results and takeaways. In 2011, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded WCS a grant to support our investigation and development. We asked ourselves the questions: How can zoo exhibits better connect people to nature? By what methods can we explore such themes to best suit our visitors? Our aim with Safari Adventure will be to provide better connections to nature for families in our community and foster a life-long sense of environmental stewardship. The exhibit concept was born of the issue that, today, there exists a greater need to connect people to nature than ever before, a topic especially relevant for our community—part of the largest urban population in the United States. The IMLS grant allowed us to take a multi-faceted approach to inform our current thoughts about useful nature exhibit practices and what resonates with our audiences. Through evaluation, prototyping, visits to other institutions, workshops, and community focus groups, we explored themes of child nature play, intergenerational learning, community engagement, and barriers to access. The Wildlife Conservation Society, founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society, saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. We are the world’s most comprehensive conservation organization, currently managing about 500 conservation projects in more than 60 countries and educating millions of visitors each year at our five living institutions in New York City: the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. Our conservation programs work directly with animals such as gorillas, elephants, condors, and penguins, and we manage more than 200 million acres of protected lands around the world.