Creating Exhibitions: Collaboration in the Planning, Development, and Design of Innovative Experiences
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More About This Title Creating Exhibitions: Collaboration in the Planning, Development, and Design of Innovative Experiences


“This is a must-read for the nervous novice as well as the world-weary veteran. The book guides you through every aspect of exhibit making, from concept to completion. The say the devil is in the details, but so is the divine. This carefully crafted tome helps you to avoid the pitfalls in the process, so you can have fun creating something inspirational. It perfectly supports the dictum—if you don’t have fun making an exhibit, the visitor won’t have fun using it.”  
—Jeff Hoke, Senior Exhibit Designer at Monterey Bay Aquarium and Author of The Museum of Lost Wonder

Structured around the key phases of the exhibition design process, this guide offers complete coverage of the tools and processes required to develop successful exhibitions. Intended to appeal to the broad range of stakeholders in any exhibition design process, the book offers this critical information in the context of a collaborative process intended to drive innovation for exhibition design. It is indispensable reading for students and professionals in exhibit design, graphic design, environmental design, industrial design, interior design, and architecture.


Polly McKenna-Cress is Department Chair and Program Director of Museum Exhibition Planning & Design at the University of the Arts, as well as Principal of Alusiv, Inc., a design firm in Philadelphia. She is a consultant, author, and educator who leads institutions, departments, and teams in master planning, development, design, and project management of exhibitions. Over her 25+ year career in both museums and design firms, she has led the creation of more than 60 exhibitions of varying sizes, budgets, and complexities.

Janet A. Kamien was an executive consultant, author, and strategic planner. In her 40+ years in the museum field she worked on staff at four major museums and also worked as an independent consultant. She worked, consulted, and advised on more than 100 different interpretive projects and strategic master plans.


Acknowledgments vi

Foreword vii

Introduction ix

Chapter 1: Collaboration 1

Collaboration Unpacked 2

Why Collaborate? 4

Why Collaborate in Museums? 5

How to Collaborate 7

A Case Study: Science Gallery, Dublin 16

An Intrinsic Imperative 19

Chapter 2: Advocacies and Action Steps 21

Advocacy Positions as a Team Creation Strategy 21

Five Advocacies Needed for Every Team 22

Action Steps 34

Dangers and Pitfalls 35

Chapter 3: Advocacy for the Institution 39

Creating the Landscape for Exemplary Exhibitions 39

Laying the Foundation 40

Planning Major Change 43

Plan Ahead, Leslie Swartz 47

Reflecting Institutional Identity, Charlie Walter 50

Review, Critique, and Approval 60

Institutional Culture and Risk 64

Assessing Results and Learning from Them 65

Chapter 4: Advocacy for the Subject Matter 69

It’s about Something Too! 69

Approach and Philosophy 70

Object or Idea Driven 74

Dangers for the Subject Matter Expert 78

History through Objects, Jessica Neuwirth 80

An Art Historian’s Perspective, Rachel McGarry 83

Chapter 5: Advocacy for Visitor Experiences 89

Developing Exhibition Content for Visitors 89

Getting Started: Developing the Concepts 100

Strategies for Organizing Information 103

Synthesizing and Presenting Initial Concepts 107

Organizing the Concepts into a Cohesive Narrative 108

The Story on Storyelling, Leslie Bedford 113

Documentation and Presentation 115

Getting the Details Ironed Out: How Does This Thing Really Work? 119

Educator as Advocate, Shari Rosenstein Werb 120

Strategies for Ironing Out the Details 124

Chapter 6: Advocacy for Design 131

Advocating for the Physical and Sensory Experience 131

Design Advocacy: Working within the Collaboration 134

Primary Exhibition Design Principles 141

The Launch of Design 143

Spatial Planning and Visitor Flow 146

Gestalt—Sensory Perception Forming a Whole 153

The Impact of Lighting, Lauren Helpern and Traci Klainer Polimeni 154

The Medium Is the Message: Modes of Display 161

Wheel of Dependent Implementation, Jeff Hoke 162

Environmental Graphic Design, Richard Cress 165

Multimedia Integration, Richard Lewis 169

Magic and Illusion in Exhibition, Diane Perlov 172

Theater and Immersive Environments, Donna Lawrence 174

Object Theater, Paul Martin 174

Accessible and Universal Design 180

Accessible Design, Lath Carlson 181

Environmentally Sound Practice 184

Sustainable Exhibitions, Lath Carlson 186

Conclusion 189

Chapter 7: Advocacy for Project and Team 193

Managing the Project and Team 193

Creating a Schedule 195

Creating a Budget 201

Managing a Team 208

Chapter 8: Methods and Techniques 213

Getting the Most out of the Process 213

Process Documentation 214

Ways to Produce and Shape Ideas 215

Concept Organization and Visual Documentation 220

Sketching as Team visualization, Dottie Miles 222

Making Decisions and Conducting Evaluation 232

Evaluation, Jeff Hayward 236

Pilot Testing, Dana Schloss & Katherine Ziff 246

Prototyping to Test Ideas, Erika Kiessner 249

Visitors’ Bill of Rights, Judy Rand 254

Writing a Successful RFP, George Mayer 258

Chapter 9: Process and Phases 263

How Do We Set Up Our Process? 263

Process Outline 266

Process Phases 270

The Postpartum: Evaluating, Maintaining, Evolving, and Documenting 295

Exhibition Closing 300

Index 301