The inside of a museum is shown underneath an orange banner that reads

Online Course: Developing Exhibitions (Two Part Course)

This two-part class is about how to put together an exhibition, from deciding what it will be about and why, to gathering, creating and arranging all the elements for visitors.  You’ll learn a lot from your classmates – from their own experiences and from the resources that they share with all of us. And you’ll learn the best way: by doing – you will develop an actual exhibit over the course of the class.

Both parts of this course must be taken in order to receive a certificate of completion and fulfill the requirements of the Small Museum Pro! series.

DATES: Part 1: October 22 – December 17, 2018; Part 2: January 22 – March 15, 2019

COST: $195 AASLH Members/ $295 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: August 13 – October 22, 2018. Please note that your registration is for BOTH PART 1 & PART 2 of this course. Registration limited to 25 people.

Register Here

Course Logistics:

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: Two 8-week sessions

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Three scheduled real-time chats (one required); assignments

MATERIALS: One required text (See below)

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro!certificate from AASLH.

Description & Outcomes:

This class is about how to put together an exhibition, from deciding what it will be about and why, to gathering, creating and arranging all the elements for visitors.  You’ll learn a lot from your classmates – from their own experiences and from the resources that they share with all of us. And you’ll learn the best way: by doing – you will develop an actual exhibit plan over the course of the class.

Each week you will be expected to:

  • Study materials directly within the online class site;
  • Find other resources on the web or in the community and share them with the class;
  • Share your own knowledge, experience and resources with the class; and
  • Complete one or more exhibit-development assignments and share your work with the class.

At the end of the class, you will:

  • Know how to develop, create and evaluate an exhibition – you will have developed a real exhibit;
  • Be familiar with other resources for more information; and
  • Have a network of small-museum professionals with whom to confer on future exhibits.

Texts Used

Required:

Exhibit Makeovers, A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums by Alice Parman, Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis (Second Edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). The text is NOT INCLUDED with your registration. You must order the book separately from the book seller of your choice.

Who should attend:

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries who have little to no experience with exhibit development and design.

Register Here

Instructors:

Alice Parman has spent a lifetime in museums. After earning a Ph.D. in Education (University of Chicago), Alice joined the education staff at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. There she worked to help teachers use the museum’s resources more effectively, then chaired the Department of Education from 1973–1978 (as the Field’s first woman manager). From 1978–1982 she was director of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural History; from 1982–1988 she served as director of WISTEC (now The Science Factory), also in Eugene. In 1989, Alice joined Formations Inc., a Portland-based exhibit design/build firm with a national clientele. After 14 years as Senior Planner/Writer for Formations, she launched her own consulting business in September 2003. She is co-author, with Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis, of Exhibit Makeovers: A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums, Second Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

Ann Craig (BA, History and Asian Studies, 2000, University of Oregon; MA, Arts Management, Museum Studies, 2006, University of Oregon) is the Director of Public Programs at The Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. Ann has been with the museum since 2005, where she oversees educational programming and exhibitions for all audiences. She is a board member with the Oregon Museum Association, chair of the Museums of Springfield and Eugene (MUSE) and a member of the Lane County Cultural Coalition.

 


Out with the Old, In with the Slightly More Updated and Stimulating Exhibit Experience

The Hezekiah Alexander House on the Charlotte Museum of History's property dates to 1774.

 

By Sara Blanchett

Through the AASLH Diversity Workshop Fellowship, I was fortunate to attend the two-day Exhibit Makeovers workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Charlotte Museum of History in early March.  I chose to attend this workshop because I have worked more as an interpreter and educator, and now that my job focuses more on collections management and exhibit curation, I wanted to learn about the modern practices of the exhibit process in hopes that these skills can be translated to my current position and beyond.

I was excited to learn the tricks of the trade from Dr. Alice Parman and Ann Craig, who literally wrote the book on exhibit makeovers.  Everyone received a copy of their book, Exhibit Makeovers: A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums, which will be a very helpful resource for creating exhibits in the future.

I liken our first day to warming up before a serious run.  We went around the room and introduced ourselves, what organizations we worked for, and the reasons why we attended the workshop. Each table consisted of 4-5 people, and that group was responsible for creating an exhibit based on artifacts that the Charlotte Museum of History had on a table in the room. Each table came up with an exhibit topic and ways to incorporate each artifact as a part of the exhibit.  These group exercises allowed us to see how important it is for curators to successfully convey the exhibit’s message through design, artifact selection, and physical placement.

The second day of the workshop took what we learned the day before (our warm-up) and implemented it by writing exhibit text and designing the physical space. We began to learn things that were extremely eye-opening, and made me look back to my own visitor experience going through museums. What you don’t realize as a visitor is that the minute you step into a museum, everything is designed with a purpose. From the tables and chairs to the hands-on activities and stimulation of the five senses, everything is done to draw you in to connect with the subject matter.

The Charlotte Museum of History graciously let us explore and critique their exhibit space. We shared with the staff our thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations for their space, and it’s a humbling experience to then go back to your own museum or historic site and find all the things that could be given a makeover as well. What I learned when going back to my own historic site, is that there are ways to make over exhibits or areas of the site without having to spend a lot of money or jump through political hoops.  Subtle changes can be made that can provide visitors with a fresh look and renewed interest if the work is put in by staff, support groups, and volunteers.

At the end of the workshop, I believe all of us wanted to go back to our museums and overhaul everything. I’m sure we’ll do as much as we can now that we are armed with the knowledge to pull our museums into the twenty-first century.

 

Check out our full calendar of upcoming workshops, webinars, and online courses here.


Online Course: Developing Exhibitions

This class is now full. Please see our Continuing Education Calendar for upcoming courses. 

 

This class is about how to put together an exhibition, from deciding what it will be about and why, to gatSmall Museum Prohering, creating and arranging all the elements for visitors.  You'll learn a lot from your classmates – from their own experiences and from the resources that they share with all of us.  And you'll learn the best way: by doing – you will develop an actual exhibit over the course of the class.

Details: 

Dates: May 15- July 7, 2017

Cost:$195 AASLH Members/ $295 Nonmembers

This class is now full. Please see our Continuing Education Calendar for upcoming courses.

This class is about how to put together an exhibition, from deciding what it will be about and why, to gathering, creating and arranging all the elements for visitors.  You'll learn a lot from your classmates – from their own experiences and from the resources that they share with all of us.  And you'll learn the best way: by doing – you will develop an actual exhibit over the course of the class.

Each week you will be expected to:

  1. study materials directly within the online class site;
  2. find other resources on the web or in the community and share them with the class;
  3. share your own knowledge, experience and resources with the class; and
  4. complete one or more exhibit-development assignments and share your work with the class.

During most weeks, you will read from the required text, Exhibit Makeovers, A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums by Alice Parman, Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis (Second Edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, $38).

At the end of the class, you will:

  • know how to develop, create and evaluate an exhibition – you will have developed a real exhibit;
  • be familiar with other resources for more information; and
  • have a network of small-museum professionals with whom to confer on future exhibits.

Who should attend:

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries who have little to no experience with exhibit development and design.
Small Museum Pro:
Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro certificate from AASLH.

About the Instructors:

Alice Parman has spent a lifetime in museum. After earning a Ph.D. in Education (University of Chicago), Alice joined the education staff at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. There she worked to help teachers use the museum’s resources more effectively, then chaired the Department of Education from 1973–1978 (as the Field’s first woman manager). From 1978–1982 she was director of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural History; from 1982–1988 she served as director of WISTEC (now The Science Factory), also in Eugene. In 1989, Alice joined Formations Inc., a Portland-based exhibit design/build firm with a national clientele. After 14 years as Senior Planner/Writer for Formations, she launched her own consulting business in September 2003. She is co-author, with Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis, of Exhibit Makeovers: A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums, Second Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

Ann Craig (BA, History and Asian Studies, 2000, University of Oregon; MA, Arts Management, Museum Studies, 2006, University of Oregon) is the Director of Public Programs at The Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. Ann has been with the museum since 2005, where she oversees educational programming and exhibitions for all audiences. She is a board member with the Oregon Museum Association, chair of the Museums of Springfield and Eugene (MUSE) and a member of the Lane County Cultural Coalition.

This class is now full. Please see our Continuing Education Calendar for upcoming courses.

A Little Romance

I first heard exhibit designer Craig Kerger use the term “galleries of thought” to describe the successive spaces that lead visitors through an interpretive experience. Whether by design or by accident, often those spaces are organized according to what might be called default concepts: category and chronology.

Military uniforms, obsolete business machines, tea-party china, branding irons, cameras are examples of categories of objects. Remember: the fact that you find a category of objects fascinating doesn’t mean those objects will automatically appeal to visitors.

romance

Think about how you first fell in love with branding irons, 1920s dresses, or butterflies. Then think up ways to offer your visitors a similar opportunity. For example, invite visitors to compare and contrast similar objects. How are 10,000-year-old sagebrush bark sandals like today’s plastic flip-flops? How are they different?

Does your exhibit storyline have a beginning, middle, and end? If so, you may decide to organize the content along a timeline. Warning: some people demand a timeline because they feel lost without it. Others find that timelines make their eyes glaze over.

An alternative solution to the time issue is to contrast “then and now.” What was the floor plan of a typical family home in the 19th  century and today? When did men wear beards and when did they shave them off?

In his essay “The Aims of Education,”  philosopher/mathematician Alfred North Whitehead described his theory of learning. As far as I know, Professor Whitehead didn’t test his theory; but it is consistent with ideas of Piaget and Montessori about how children learn. Whitehead posited that at any age, you can’t learn anything unless you first fall in love with the subject. He called this the stage of romance. And when you fall in love with your life partner, or initiate a deep friendship, everything about that person becomes interesting and memorable to you, no matter how trivial. Whitehead called this sponge-like ability to absorb facts the stage of precision. From this encounter, you glean big ideas that carry over into the rest of your life; Whitehead called this phenomenon the stage of generalization.

Where would you put your chips, in terms of exhibit development? Clearly, romance is the portal that makes learning possible. And when visitors embark on a museum visit, they are looking for romance. It’s up to us to help them get in the mood!

What amazing objects, juicy facts, and hair-raising stories lie hidden in your collections and even in your exhibit galleries, longing for their moment in the spotlight? The search for romance is one of the most amusing––and amazing––aspects of the exhibit planning process.

Learn more about adding romance to your museum at the AASLH Exhibit Makeovers workshop in Nashville, TN on March 3-4. Register by January 27 and save $40!

Alice Parman is a Museum Consultant and Organizational Coach in Eugene, OR. She also serves as faculty for AASLH’s Exhibit Makeovers workshop and co-authored the book Exhibit Makeovers: Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums.