Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Talking Across a Gap -- A Guest Post from Gillian Thomas


After a career leading museum projects in the UK and US, with early experience in France, and advising in a wide range of countries across the world, Gillian Thomas is now an international consultant on cultural projects for trusts, foundations, and governments. She enjoys helping people identify what they really want to do and then overcoming any obstacles to doing it – from vision to reality.

Gillian has kindly shared her timely essay below with ExhibiTricks readers. Enjoy!


Talking Across a Gap

We talk a lot about people having a voice, not having a voice, not having a seat at the table – but the question is more about who is listening and is this reciprocal? All too often we are putting out opinions, asking for feedback but maybe not really wanting it and rarely really wanting to change what we think or do as a result. This does tend to make feedback more angry and loud, in an attempt to really be heard. 
Whether we are talking about age gaps or about different societal groups, especially if feeling unheard, unappreciated, we are much more prone to shout our position than to hear and think about the position of others. Perhaps we need to relearn how to talk to one another which means listening and trying to understand.

This summer has been a time for change as COVID restrictions were lifted somewhat yet still impact everything we do. An influx of visitors, after not having seen anyone for a while, made me value the conversation and also realize this requires an effort. Age range was one aspect of our guests, from 10 to 85, with some limited diversity. Food is another: while sharing a meal, it is much more difficult to have a full-blown argument with shouting and much easier to listen to something you don’t agree with if you have something delicious to chew. With several people around a table, you also have time to think, listen to more than one viewpoint. Ah, you may say, that’s because you weren’t the one doing the cooking – but I was. However, this gave me an added pleasure of seeing people enjoying the food and also the chance to walk away for a moment, if I needed a breather. 
 
Learning how to talk without offending each other yet being able to express one’s views, as opposed to just keeping quiet, can be a challenge. This is, I think, a skill we could learn – but it requires patience on both sides. I’ve got it wrong lots of times, saying something, making assumptions – some I realized and some probably not, so I would like to be better able to understand those I don’t currently either understand or agree with. Why? Our society needs solidarity, we need to work together for the common good and to get the commitment necessary to solve the major challenges we face. If we waste energy shouting at each other, we don’t make progress. 

So conversations across the gaps need to be encouraged and here are a few guidelines for a starter:

•  Get a mixture, not just one person that is different in some way
•  Small group, 6-10, around a table with food
•  No topic is needed, these emerge, but if stuck, what the future offers gets most people going
•  Accept this doesn’t have to go anywhere, it’s just a chance to get to understand others better and to sometimes challenge’s one’s own positions and attitudes.


This may seem like a very anodyne way forward – but I’ve learned a lot, and enjoyed it. 

Food always helps and if someone gets very argumentative, you can always ask them to help you in the kitchen.


Thanks, Gillian, for sharing some excellent food for thought!  



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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

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Monday, September 13, 2021

Decisions, Decisions! Problem-Solving Tools for Designers



The "design process" is often a "decision-making process."

And often the key to decision-making success comes through using the proper tools.

That's where the Untools website comes in.  Untools is a collection of thinking tools to help you solve problems, make decisions, and understand systems.

The Untools folks have collected (and continually add to) different types of decision-making ideas and frameworks that you can try out right away and use to kick-start your design thinking.

I especially liked the Prompt Questions section of the Untools website that helps you choose the right thinking tool(s) for your particular purpose(s).


Why not decide to click on over to the Untools website right now?



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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

More FREE Exhibit Resources!



Who doesn't like free stuff?  Here are links to some great exhibit design resources that come from the POW! website:


A constantly updated compendium of resources for museum design and exhibit fabrication (including websites and contact information.) Need to find fake food, giant sequins, or adaptive devices? Check out the GBER List!  And contact me if you have a resource you think should be added to the list.


The idea for the Exhibit Cheapbooks started during sessions at the annual Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Conference with the purpose of sharing "cheap" exhibit ideas and creating a written record of how to replicate these simple and successful exhibit components.

The four Exhibit Cheapbooks have always celebrated the "sharing" nature of museums. You will find varied exhibit ideas from museum colleagues from around the world inside each volume. Sincere thanks to everyone who has shared their ideas and expertise! And special thanks to ASTC for allowing all the Exhibit Cheapbooks material to be shared freely online.



Check out these interesting and informative video conversations with museum professionals from around the world.  Topics run the gamut from museum management, community engagement, digital exhibits, and more!  Click the link above for the video gallery or go directly to the POW! YouTube site.



You can also find downloadable exhibit articles and other museum exhibit design resources by clicking over to the main resource page on the POW! website.

Do you have some other great resources to share?  Tell us about them in the COMMENTS Section below!




Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Positive Projects // Projecting Positivity


I've decided to take a little "break" from paying too much attention to the news because it makes me unhappy.

So for this post, I've decided to highlight two different museum/cultural projects that focus on the happiness and well-being of museum visitors and cultural consumers.





The 
Reasons To Be Cheerful website is an interactive mapped compendium of projects around the world arranged by topics such as Energy, Health, Culture, and Education. You zoom around the map to find out more about the people and groups moving projects forward to make a better world.

Worth checking out by clicking here.





As stated on the Happy Museum website, the project "supports museum practice that places wellbeing within an environmental and future-facing frame, rethinking the role that museums can play in creating more resilient people, places, and planet. Through action research, academic research, peer networking and training it supports institutional and community wellbeing and resilience in the face of global challenges."

The Happy Museum website is well-stocked with resources and thoughtful findings that can provide ways of moving your institution or personal practice toward supporting institutional and community wellbeing and resilience in the face of global financial and environmental challenges.



Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Design Inspiration: Sui Park's Cable Tie Creations



One of my favorite definitions of creativity is "using familiar things in unfamiliar ways."  By that criteria, Sui Park is truly creative.




Sui Park is a New York-based artist born in Seoul, Korea. Her work involves creating 3-dimensional biomorphic shapes out of industrial materials like cable ties.




What kinds of familiar materials or ideas could you use in unfamiliar ways?  

Click on over to Sui Park's website to see more of her work and gather some creative design inspiration.





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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Making Your (Creative) Fortune




Creativity and creative enterprises sometimes take unexpected paths.

I have a bag of fortune cookie fortunes that I've saved for over 30 years (obviously I like Chinese food AND fortune cookies!)


But I only save the "good" fortunes -- the ones that somehow resonate with me. (Now if my kids get a fortune they think is a "good" one, they save it for me too.)

Anyway, I was thinking about my bag of fortunes, and how they relate to the little unexpected nudges that send us down creative paths we might not have followed otherwise.

See that picture at the top of this post? That's Lin-Manuel Miranda reading a book in a hammock while on vacation.  But not just any book, it's the biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Miranda just wanted a "big book" to read while on vacation and somewhat randomly chose Chernow's historical tome.  And from that sequence of events, the smash-hit play Hamilton was born.

The musician Brian Eno, inspired by artist Peter Schmidt, developed a deck of cards called "Oblique Strategies."  Each card offers "a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking."  

Over the years, Eno has developed several Oblique Strategies decks that you can purchase, but there are also Oblique Strategies apps and online versions that offer creative suggestions like: "Slow preparation, fast execution" or "Steal a solution."

The composer John Cage used the I Ching to produce compositions called "indeterminate music." An example is "Music of Changes" in which all the musical and compositional decisions were determined by the I Ching.

So in the spirit of John Cage, I chose four fortunes at random from my collection to share, and to reflect on what they mean to me in the context of my creative design practice:




Sometimes in exhibit design (and in life!) there's no "perfect" choice, sometimes you just need to choose and move forward!





I like working with creative partners that don't need to always be right, but who are willing to engage in robust give-and-take and offering up options and solutions, not just criticisms.





It's good to be open to ideas that might not initially make sense.  (A hip-hop musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton? Nah, that will never work!)



Here's wishing all ExhibiTricks readers good creative "fortune" with their projects!
  

Do you have your own favorite ways to get past "creative block"? Share your ideas in the "Comments" section below!




Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"