Training Materials

Trends in Zoo and Aquarium Exhibit Interpretation

Trends in Zoo and Aquarium Exhibit Interpretation

Oregon Coast Aquarium

January 2010

In 2009, the Oregon Coast Aquarium hired Terry O’Connor Consulting to assess exhibit interpretive trends at AZA zoos and aquariums. During November, phone interviews were conducted with AZA zoo and aquarium education directors, exhibit directors, and graphic designers as well as with consultants who work with aquariums and zoos on exhibit design, interpretation and evaluation. A total of 30 institutions and businesses participated. The interviews gathered information on how the approach to exhibit interpretation has changed, the current major trends, and how influences outside our industry (such as museums, cultural attractions, and the Internet) affect aquariums’ and zoos’ approaches to messages and to design of exhibit graphics. Those interviewed were asked about current trends in exhibit topics and interpretive messages. We also asked whether the ability to replace graphics more inexpensively influences whether aquariums and zoos prototype graphics, and what kinds of sign material are preferred. Finally, we asked our colleagues what they are keeping their eyes on nowÔÇöwhat they believe are future trends in aquarium and zoo interpretation.