Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Creating Exhibitions Follow Up: Communication and Remediation

I just got back from the first Creating Exhibitions Symposium in Philadelphia. I enjoyed the conference, and am looking forward to helping plan the 2009 edition!

While I was inspired by the individual sessions and keynotes I attended, I was struck by two common threads that connected many parts of the conference for me: Communication and Remediation

COMMUNICATION: It became clear during the discussions in many sessions that one way to create better results and relationships (Whether you're discussing Teams, Contracts and RFPs, or Insider vs. Outsiders) is to work to make sure that channels of communication are clear and provided to everyone (no information hoarding!)

Several great items involving communication came up during the session on RFPs: Why don't museums let respondents know which firms have made the short list? As George Mayer said during the session, if I'm invited to be in a race with a million dollar prize, and it costs me ten thousand dollars to enter, will I still want to enter if I know that Carl Lewis, the Olympic gold medalist, is one of the participants? The other thread involving communication was just the notion of being respectful of others. It is just good practice to let people know if they didn't get a job, not leave them hanging. While we seem to spend lots of time arranging teams or sweating out the details of contracts, it became clear during the conference that spending more time on communication would head off many problems.

REMEDIATION: During sessions ranging from education through exhibits to the prototyping process, I often found myself thinking "Why didn't they fix that?" or "How could that exhibit component have been improved?" Honestly, the answer I keep coming back to is "remediation".

No matter how carefully you have prototyped and evaluated and crafted your exhibition process, once the exhibits are out on the floor and visitors are using them unexpected issues arise. What happens next is the difference between creating great museums and exhibitions or merely mediocre visitor experiences.

Have you deliberately left time and money in your exhibition process for thoughtful remediation, or are you launching headlong into your next exhibitions project and leaving a collection of exhibit orphans in your wake? It makes me cringe to look at an exhibit component that could be improved by one little "tweak", that clearly was never touched by the exhibition process, let alone remediation, ever again. So, be an advocate for remediation in your next project!

What are some of your tips, or lessons learned, regarding Communication or Remediation? Let us know in the Comments Section below!