Sunday, June 17, 2007

POP! goes the Exhibit Design

Museums, being the notoriously cheap places that they are, can often benefit from helping their exhibit makers discover interesting and inexpensive new materials to use for their own devices.

One interesting resource in this regard is the world of POP Design. (I'm just a kid from Detroit, so when I hear the word "pop" I always think of a cold carbonated beverage like Faygo Redpop.)

But in this case, POP stands for "Point of Purchase." Think about all those shiny (sometimes motorized or moving or lit) displays near the chips or cold tablets or ball point pens that you see in all the stores you go to. Now multiply that single display for Doritos by thousands (or millions!) of copies worldwide and you'll begin to get a small sense of the scale of the POP industry.

So, what does this have to do with developing museum exhibits? Just this: once any material has been manufactured in sufficient volume (to be used in POP Displays, for example) the unit price goes way down. Low enough for museums to become interested in using color-shifting plastic, inexpensive digital audio repeaters, or scented laminates(!) in new exhibit components.

What other unusual trade organizations or groups could we in the "Exhibits Biz" learn from?