Carnegie Museum Studio Exhibition

Patricia Yu
4 min readSep 12, 2021


Extraordinary Ordinary Things exhibition


Learning About the Exhibit

This Fall, our Senior studio has collaborated with the Pittsburgh Carnegie Art Museum to create an out of the walls exhibition experience. With this project, we hope to extend the purpose and values of the exhibition Extraordinary Ordinary Things to a new audience.

My journey starts with listening and conversing with one of the art curators, Rachel Delphia, for the Extraordinary Ordinary Things exhibit. She came and told us her story as well as her thoughts and values going into creating this exhibit. Some key takeaways I’ve had from this conversation was that:

  • Some key purposes for the exhibition: celebrate women and people of color designers, understand the built environment and people’s stories
  • The layout of the exhibit and the reasoning behind the placement
  • What does an in-museum exhibition not offer: touching and playing with the artifacts

Gaining My Own Understanding of the Exhibition

The first week of beginning this project, I really wanted to experience myself what it meant to go to the exhibit for the first time, what would someone that haven’t seen the exhibit the first time be thinking, how do they understand what is being displayed?

I walked through the exhibit and looked through all the objects, taking notes on objects that made an impression on me and why it did.

[my favorite object and comments on it]

What was also super interesting to me was how others reacted to the exhibition. As a designer, I think I’m able to pay more attention to the details and resonate with the purpose of this exhibition than someone who may not have this background and interest. Therefore, I asked many strangers within this exhibit what was their favorite object and why to understand more of the aspects that others pay attention to in an artifact.

Week 1 reflection
Interviews and observations on people in the museum
My observations of a memorable artifact

I came to a couple of conclusions where,

  1. People relate to artifacts that evoke personal connection → Artifacts that are abstract but have certain boundaries that led you to interpret a certain situation
  2. People are attracted to easily digestible content (e.g. videos), they won’t read into the background unless there is something strongly attracting them to it.


What Are The Moments That Spark Value?

The workshop with Greg Manley during the second week was an experience that I’ve never had before. We were encouraged to go out of our comfort zones mentally and physically and engage with strange activities and rituals. The reflection portion of our activities resulted me to gain another perspective on what and when resonates with a story:

  1. Being personally involved in a process and seeing your impacts in a result makes you more attached and attracted to that result → co-creation of value between designer and user.
  2. It’s the small, straightforward, and beautiful moments that sometimes people remember the most — a spark of a flame, the ash from a fire, the intertwining of wire…
  3. People enjoy placing their own meaning and values into a story.

Combining Takeaways

With these experiences and reflection points, I sketched my initial responses to my learning. These designs embody a few purposes and criteria:

  • How to increase engagement to our exhibit’s purpose: increase reflection on everyday design/product design, materiality in design, history of design and designers.
  • How to encourage learning about product design or the history of an artifact.
  • How to use tactile interaction and immersive media to create interest
  • How to create interest for users that don’t usually go to art museusm
Initial responses

After putting down my initial responses, I also looked at other artists that inspires me and could aid in these ideas:

Workshop and week 2 reflection

Over the second week, I talked with a couple of others about these ideas and this also helped me generate more ideas and decide on a few topics/purposes to focus on. I hope to further develop these ideas and I’m excited to create something amazing!



Patricia Yu

Industrial/Experience Designer, Human Computer Interactions and Physical Computing at Carnegie Mellon University