Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement:
The Art of Creating APE Exhibits
By Thomas Humphrey, Joshua P. Gutwill,
& the Exploratorium APE Team
The Exploratorium, 2005
A must for exhibit developers, researchers, educators, and other museum professionals looking
for ways to engage visitors more deeply with interactive science exhibits, this book documents the exploration and
findings of the Exploratorium's NSF-funded APE project. Both a significant contribution to visitor research and a
nuts-and-bolts guide to exhibit development, Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement includes 15 "APE Tales"
(exhibit recipes with photos, drawings, and detailed construction specifications); discussions about setting
explicit goals for visitors' exhibit experiences; research and evaluation methods and results; and lessons learned
for building constructivist-style exhibits. 144 pp.
$19 for ASTC members; $23 for nonmembers. Shipping and handling extra.
This project does more than acknowledge personal and social meaning-making; it celebrates
it, and makes it the intended outcome of visitors' experiences. Few research studies in the museum literature
attempt to assess this constructivist process goal so clearly... The authors also address another currently
important topic: challenging the traditional authoritarian voice of museums. They recognize that APE exhibits at
which visitors can ask their own questions, engage in inquiries over and above those suggested in the graphics,
and take pleasure in "observing, playing, investigating, exploring, collaborating, searching, speculating," are
empowering for visitors.
Table of Contents
Foreword: The Importance of APE
Visitor Conversation: Circuit Workbench
Introduction: The Evolution of APE
An Introduction to the APE Tales
Visitor Conversation: What's Hot, What's Not?
What's Hot, What's Not?
Visitor Conversation: Downhill Race
Visitor Conversation: Watch Water Freeze
Watch Water Freeze
Visitor Conversation: Pulley Table
Making a Mobile
Reflecting on APE
& Erik Thogersen