The Museum of People




Ashley Chan
Anukriti Kedia
Aditi Dhabalia


3 weeks, 2019


Service Design
Interaction Design
Visual Design


How can we build greater cultural learning, understanding, and appreciation amongst strangers and across communities small and large?

We live in a microcosm where many cultures intersect and get assimilated into a new space. There can be a lack of understanding and appreciation for diversity across these communities, and our remedies often lack intimacy and memorability.


We propose the museum of people—a moving museum bus, where visitors give and grow cultural understanding through a hands-on experience of artifact creation and storytelling. So how does it work?

 Imagine the museum of people travels to your community. You learn that you'll be making a personal artifact, sharing its cultural meaning, and learning from strangers doing the same.

02. You get in line, surrounded by other curious strangers, where you start conversing about the surrounding prompts like "home is__" and "the world needs__"

03. You are greeted by a facilitator, who puts you in a group with several other strangers. You all gather at a table, where you are given a prompt, such as “Sunday Brunch” or “A Taboo”, and an unlimited supply of Play Doh. Using the prompt and this moldable medium, you are told to build an artifact that reflects on your culture, and to share the stories behind it. With your permission, your conversations are recorded throughout the process, so they can accompany your artifacts in the museum.

04. When your group finishes conversing and making, your artifacts are displayed together, along with a headset for others who come by to listen to your stories. You also walk around this moving museum to learn about other cultures and to see how they are embodied in physical and audio forms.

The Museum of People continues to travel across communities to connect people and cultures.


Through “me, we, city” design sprints, we built this service from the bottom up.

Starting from our own team’s stories of personal transformation, we identified common threads including:

  • Building states of reflection and self-awareness

  • Converting negative moments to positive ones

  • Bridging gaps between the real and ought self

  • Creating space for building connections and community

These motifs helped to inspire scenarios encapsulating problem spaces, as well as design ideas.

Inspired by Priya Parker’s ideas on the power of gathering, we brainstormed over 100 types of gatherings and gathering spaces, which helped us to map out themes, design ideas, and newfound values!


Framing the problem

From scenarios of personal transformation and how people gather, we began reflecting more on communities near and far, large, and small. 

We built inspiration and research through various artists, innovators, and speakers, from Pittsburgh conceptual artist Lenka Clayton to co-founder of Dash Marshall, Bryan Boyer, to Jubilee change-makers on YouTube. 

We settled on the problem of building cultural understanding and appreciation, which we framed with the following questions:

01. How might we use artifacts as a source of storytelling and build cultural learning and community amongst strangers?

03. How might we keep ephemeral stories, interactions, and learnings alive?


02. How might we turn one-sided conversations into cultural exchanges?

04. How might we leverage the power of gathering people and stepping back from our tech-centric world?


Making user journeys and service blueprints

We landed on the idea of a moving bus museum and iterated on a user journey and service blueprint. Here are some guiding questions we came up with to help us flesh out the service touchpoints:

How can users best discover the service and how explicit do we want to be with intention?

How can we use space to build cultural exchanges and understanding between people?

How can we leverage physical artifacts and mediums of making to create memorability?

How can the tangible and intangible products of our gatherings be shared further or left behind?

How can we walk the boundaries of the everyday person as a viewer vs. a maker?

How can we provide the right balance of freedom and guidance between a group of strangers to foster desired interactions and conversations?


Making the uncomfortable comfortable through conversational touchpoints

We paid attention to shaping conversational touchpoints in order to spark conversation, maintain open-endedness, and introduce comfort between strangers.

In Line Conversation Starters

Compliment a stranger
Home is _____
One regret
The world needs _____

Artifact Prompts

Sunday brunch
A taboo
Birthday tradition
Family go-to place

Facilitation Questions

Ask someone why their memory is so strong
Ask someone if their artifact or memory is something worth passing on


Experience prototyping

Using our service blueprint, some paper, and Play Doh, we built out features of our service to play test.


We learned a lot!

  • People love Play Doh — It’s versatile, happy, and playful!
  • Better conversations can be facilitated
  • Face-to-face gatherings are important

How can we expand the service?

  • Empower visitors to facilitate their own gatherings.

  • Build together instead of individually.

  • Connect people from different states and countries.

  • Build a safe space to share vulnerabilities.

  • Crowdsource prompts for better conversations.