Tuesday, April 16, 2019

In Solidarity -- Don't Stop


In solidarity with colleagues and citizens in places like France, Brazil, Libya -- where cultural history has been destroyed by accident, by neglect, by violence.  I say, "Don't Stop."

Working in the museum world can sometimes feel overwhelming. Days filled with administrative trivia, visitor complaints, and endless "to do" lists can, at times, wear even the most dedicated museum workers down.

Don't stop.

Find one thing today, even a little thing, that will make your museum better, and make you feel better about working there.

It could be a Social Media post about a fun new Education program.  A tweak to an exhibit to make it move from good to great.  Ordering a new entry mat to replace that worn out old one by the front door. Sincerely complimenting a co-worker on a job well done. A phone call to reconnect with a community partner.

All those little things add up --- for you, and your visitors.  There will always be things to rebuild, things to improve, but take time to look back at how far you have come, what you have built and accomplished, not just what is left undone.

Don't stop.




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Monday, April 8, 2019

Museum Elevators and Exhibit Design (Part 2)



I recently wrote a post about the underutilization of elevators for exhibit and graphic possibilities in museums.  Fortunately, ExhibiTricks readers responded with some nice examples which I'm happy to share below. 

Santa Cruz MAH (Museum of Art and History)

Nina Simon shared these thoughts about the "Screaming Hand" elevator wrap pictured at the top of this post: We LOVE using our elevator at the Santa Cruz MAH to shake things up and make people welcome. Our elevator always has two colorful chairs in it to invite people to sit. And a couple years ago, it became a living piece of Santa Cruz art and history with a wrap of the Screaming Hand (a worldwide skate icon started in our town). This photo of the interior of our elevator is our most liked Instagram post ever.



The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College

Mix a creative, interdisciplinary, contemporary art museum with a huge freight elevator and you get the "Elevator Music" series at The Tang -- a set of curated installations in the Museum's freight elevator.  You can find out more by following this link. And here are a few representative images of "Elevator Music" below:

Elevator Music 35
Ephraim Asili: Jazz Salt


Elevator Music 33  Up = Out: A Sun Ra Mixtape

Tillamook Visitor Center

Judy Rand shared this elevator immersion experience from the Tillamook Visitor Center in Tillamook, Oregon. You can ride up to the Tillamook cheese factory floor overlook surrounded by cheese curds. It’s a way to give factory visitors a peek at what goes on inside all those tall, mysterious stainless steel vats. 

Cheese Curds Photo Credit: (c) KATU



Great Lakes Science Center 

When the Great Lakes Science Center hosted the traveling "Body Worlds" exhibition they gave visitors a great "sneak peek" of what they might expect to see.  Great use of inside/outside elevator graphics!





History Colorado Center

ExhibiTricks reader Abby Krause, the Design & Production Director at History Colorado in Denver, was kind enough to share these two images from a recent exhibition:








And if your museum has no elevators:


North Carolina Transportation Museum

Tyler Trahan, a Historical Interpreter/Educator at the Museum shares that while the Museum has no elevators, they've found another unexpected venue for interpretive content: the restrooms! They've put labels next to the sinks in each of four public restrooms discussing the toilets aboard either trains or airplanes. They match in Men's and Women's rooms at each location so visitors can share a "Guess what I found!" moment after exiting the restroom. 







I really love the idea of using those underutilized spaces in museums where our visitors aren't expecting a fun graphic or exhibit to pop-up!   I'm still collecting stories and images of the creative uses of museum elevators (and restrooms!) to put together into a free, shareable resource.

So if you've got images/descriptions you'd like to contribute, feel free to email them to me at info@orselli.net






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Monday, April 1, 2019

EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK: The MOST Powerful Exhibit Development and Interpretation Tool Ever!


On this special day, I want to give ExhibiTricks readers an exclusive "sneak peek" into the most powerful exhibition design and interpretation approach available to developers, designers, museums, and entertainment venues worldwide.

The Retinal experiential/Aural liminal (Re/Al) life system integrates automatically with any visitors' sensory capabilities to create a direct, intuitive experience that supersedes ANY available digital or network information delivery methods currently on the market. In fact, no current or future display techniques will ever be able to surpass the resolution and sensory engagement of Re/Al exhibits.

While many experience designers are exploring the "bleeding edge" of advanced display techniques through Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, it is clear from our testing in museums throughout the world that 100% of visitors spend more time in Re/Al reality -- and we can back that claim up with real Re/Al data.

If you would like to find out more about how to get Re/Al with your own organization's exhibit development process, please direct inquiries to our Chief Officer for New, Lรถof Lirpa at http://bit.ly/ReAlExhibits 

Visitor interfacing with a Re/Al exhibit experience.


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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Does It Really Matter If Museums Stop Taking Sackler Money Now?


There have been times over the past 30+ years of my museum career when I've recalled the words of my dear departed Italian immigrant grandfather when he first learned about my career choice, "Why do you want to work at a museum? Museums are for rich people!"

Of course, from a historical perspective, he was absolutely right as museums have always been a place to display colonial spoils, robber baron largesse, or serve as monuments to wealthy patrons. But a part of me has always believed that museums could be held to higher standards than other organizations.

Recently my grandfather's words came forcefully to mind with current news reports. Following multiple lawsuits related to the opioid crisis, there has been much hand-wringing and pearl-clutching from some large museums declaring they will now refuse money from various members of the Sackler family (who added to their already sizeable fortunes through companies vigorously promoting said opioids.)

Why is it that museums so often take these "principled" stands after they've already collected the loot?  I mean, I don't see any museums offering to give previously collected Sackler money back (if that was even possible ...)

It would be much more impressive if museums took these showy public stands before some of their donors or board members used their museum ties to "culture wash" their cash.  However, given diminishing public funding for museums and other cultural institutions (President Trump proposed again to eliminate PBS, NEH, NEA, and IMLS in his latest budget!) museums must dance a fine line when it comes to keeping those donations coming -- which creates some interesting optics -- like climate change deniers on the boards of science museums, and art museum donors whose companies make the tear gas canisters and smoke grenades used against migrants at the southern border.

Museums talk a great game when it comes to high intellectual and ethical standards, but when pushed, most cultural organizations seem to hold their noses and take the cash. Can't we do better than this?

Somewhere in the great beyond, my grandfather is laughing.



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Monday, March 18, 2019

Are Your Museum's Elevators An Underutilized Graphics/Messaging Resource?



On the road again, I notice inside the elevators at the Hampton Inn there are evocative photos with simple captions (like the "pedal pusher" image above.)

At first, I wasn't really sure how I was supposed to react to the simple graphics and messages scattered throughout the hotel.  Eventually, the combination of image+idea grew on me --- in a positive way.  (I'm trying to find out the motivations for Hampton Inn in "branding" themselves in this manner --- but that's for a future post.)

Leaving all that aside,  since I got to see the different images in the elevators several times a day, for several days, I started thinking about why elevators (especially in museums) seem to be an underutilized design opportunity for environmental graphics and exhibits.


Occasionally, the outside of elevator doors are used as a place to mount informational/directional graphics, but what about the elevator interior (a classic case of a captive audience) or the usually blank walls and alcoves containing elevators?

I'm not talking about using elevator interiors as a place to hang the equivalent of "coming events" flyers --- rather how could we use these natural gathering spaces to engage visitors, to set a tone, to provide simple interactive experiences --- involving motion or perspective or acceleration or the "etiquette of elevators", for example?

I'd like to collect the best ideas and/or images you've experienced (or would like to experience!) of graphics, exhibits, messaging, or architectural embellishments involving elevators and pull them together for future blog posts on underutilized graphic/exhibit spaces in buildings.

So either put your elevator musings into the Comments Section below or put them into an email to me directly.



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Monday, March 11, 2019

Creative Inspiration: Damon Belanger's Shadow Art


Artist Damon Belanger has playfully subverted people's expectations by creating unexpected "Shadow Art" in and around Redwood City, California.



By using chalk outlines that are then filled in with durable paint made for concrete patios, Belanger adds whimsy to what might otherwise be bland streetscapes.



How could you play with this idea outside (or inside!) your museum?



Find out more about Damon Belanger's work by clicking over to his website or Instagram page.



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