events prior to Bowie’s launch. “We had very little difficulty with full
implementation for that reason,” Ms. Hanner says.
Once it knew it could sell the tickets, the project team had to make
sure the galleries could accommodate a crowd. “Frankly, we didn’t know
what it felt like to have 125 people in one of our galleries all at the same
time,” Ms. Hanner says.
So the project team implemented another test—“the Bowie Crush.”
The team had all of the MCA’s employees gather in the gallery spaces,
and concluded the target capacity of 125 could be increased to 150 if
necessary—improving the project’s ability to achieve its strategic goal of
having as many paying visitors as possible.
However, the Bowie Crush also revealed a crowding problem in the
waiting area. So the MCA team rearranged the stanchions that guided
where waiting visitors stood. The team originally planned to install the
Bowie gift shop beside the exhibition’s entrance, but that posed a potential crowding issue as well.
“We got very entrenched in the details,” Ms. Hanner says, “and every
once in a while an outside perspective was incredibly useful.” It was an
MCA staffer not on the project team who pointed out that the store
could be located adjacent to the exhibition’s exit.
Because the MCA had other exhibitions on display concurrently,
the project team put various contingency plans in place. If a traffic jam
emerged in the first-floor ticket-sales area, for instance, anyone wanting
a Bowie ticket would be directed to the second floor.
The influx of visitors along with several hundred new staffers to support
the exhibition—security guards, visitor-services staff and shop staff—
posed a problem in the parking lot. To quash the risk of traffic jams and
accidents, the project team formed an agreement with a nearby garage.
our size don’t
shows this big,
stress on our
so we struggled
to know how
people visited, making it the most-attended exhibit in the MCA’s history.