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Innovation in the museum world.

 From an idea to an exhibition concept in just 4 days.

Estonian History Museum
April 2020

How does creating an exhibition work? Usually, the preparations for an exhibition begin months, if not a year in advance. From meeting to meeting, ideas are being bounced around until the core of the exhibition starts to formulate. But what if you need to create the concept in just a few months while including at least 10 different people from across the country in these restricted times?


That's the exact challenge the Estonian History Museum faced at the beginning of this year. With an open mind, the team decided to try something completely different this time. Having heard of design sprints as an intense and effective methodology that enables getting from an idea to a validated solution, they decided to go for the innovative approach. Another benefit of the design sprint was that it could be carried out remotely, and would be a good way to bring together the team that was scattered across Estonia.

How did the design sprint help solve the challenges of the museum?

In 2021, it's going to be 30 years from the restoration of independence in Estonia, so the museum wanted to celebrate it with an exhibition around the country. In addition to the need to bring together different parties from the museum, there were quite some conceptual challenges. For example how to create an engaging exhibition and spark interest in those who don't remember the mentioned time.

The flexibility that the design sprint offers, especially remotely, worked well in bringing together the team scattered across Estonia. Furthermore, the event worked well as a team-building exercise to bring the participants closer together. The intense but organized process of the design sprint enabled the team to get from an open idea to a clear concept in just 2 days. From there we, the Studio Leek team, took charge of prototyping the concept and validated it with the target audience.

What is more, the design sprint enabled the team to work on substantive questions rather than managerial aspects of the exhibition design. In order to solve the various focus points defined during the problem definition phase,

the design sprint offers several different solutions. One of the challenges mapped by the History Museum was how to keep the visitors engaged while visiting the exhibition. To tackle this particular question, we included experts from the subject matter. This means that at the beginning of the sprint - the initial mapping of the background info and challenges part - the expert shared important knowledge and guidance on the matter. That was crucial in developing the solutions as this was something to come back to and reflect upon while moving forward.


The second important challenge was adjusting the content to engage those who don't relate to that particular era. To solve that, we used the validation methodology and included multiple youngsters to discuss the re-independence topic and had them share honest feedback on the prototype. This provided good insight on what topics people relate to more - for example changes in architecture and the value of money.

Design sprint was a great way to advance the project and build the team during these restrictive times. We loved how the design sprint facilitators Tähe-Kai and Sandra were a part of our team during these four days and were always thinking along.


For a large team (who didn’t know each other in the beginning) it was ideal, that all the participants could speak their mind and no one was left aside. The anonymous voting, which was an effective method in the remote format, helped us to pick the right ideas and reduced personal preferences. Certainly we’ll consider design sprint for developing our next exhibitions.


-Laura Kipper, project manager from Estonian History Museum


Design sprint prototype of the exhibition concept.

The outcome

4-day remote work outcome enabled the team to create a holistic  concept of the exhibition from multiple independent ideas. All of the participants across Estonia were able to contribute to the creation process and speak up to arrive at a unified understanding.

After helping to create the concept, we built the prototype and carried out interviews with the target audience. On the last day of the sprint, we analyzed everything and created a list of the next actionable items to maximize the value of the sprint.

Let's design sprint together!

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