Hey COA design folks! Dru encouraged me to upload a project I just finished from my first semester in grad school. I’m at University of the Arts, working on an MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design. It’s kind of like Human Ecology, applied to the world of museums. Or, I guess, museums to me are kind of like (or should be) the embodiment of Human Ecology. And that’s why I’m here.
Anyway, this book is the final product of a semester-long project. The challenge was to create an exhibition in a 1,000 sq. ft. area that somehow focused on mapping and systems of information (for kids). I spent the first half of the semester developing the project (ie. researching, writing the big idea and mission statement, organizing ideas through bubble diagrams and concept maps, working out the look and feel, the gestalt, etc.), and then each of us handed off our “baby” to another student and spent the second half of the semester designing the adopted project. It was an exercise in not getting too attached to an idea, and also in finding the threads that interested me in an idea that was not initially my own. It was annoying at first, but actually a really important lesson. It is rare that exhibit designers are given free range over the subject of an exhibit. There are all kinds of factors involved in coming up with an idea, from what the board wants to what the funders want to current events to exciting new things in the collection – et cetera. The idea that I developed was about animal navigation and how people can learn to navigate using environmental cues. So halfway through the semester I had to switch gears and learn all about how the brain communicates information to the body – and then interpret that information to 7-14 year-old kids.
The result is a schematic design book, which is a tool exhibit developers use to propose an exhibit. This is the kind of product that would be used in a presentation to the board of a museum or in meetings with funders – basically a way to show what an exhibit would be all about, without getting into the nitty-gritty design details yet.
So, enjoy! And feel free to get in touch with me if you’re interested in this field or want to know more about the program at UArts. I’m happy to talk but also insanely busy so my reply may not be prompt. But I will get back to you!
Xander – firstname.lastname@example.org