This is the time of the year that many blogs and websites give you their "Top 10 Whatever List." But given that I don't like those kind of lists (especially the bogus "Top Ten Science Museums" or "Top Ten Children's Museums" lists that seem to pop up in "family" magazines all too often) I thought I'd "ReWind" one of this year's most popular posts instead --- all about ways to thank donors and sponsors in interesting ways --- and couple it to the end of the year "thankful mood" that naturally seems to accompany the Holidays and the New Year.
So, THANKS ExhibiTricks Readers and Subscribers!
I really appreciate the thousands (!) of you who plug into this blog each and every week. If you have ideas or suggestions for ExhibiTricks in the upcoming year, feel free to email me
As a bonus for those of you who go in for calendar year transitions, here are two fun "Museum Year Resolutions"
---- things you can do for yourself and
the museum field:
1) The first is to contribute to ExhibitFiles
(if you haven't already!) and post a review or case study to add to your own professional portfolio, but also to expand the museum field's record of exhibits descriptions and exhibition criticism. Get started by heading over to the ExhibitFiles website
2) The second is to join Experimonth
. What's Experimonth? A place to complete monthly challenges and collect data for curious and playful scientists! It's a project spearheaded by the brilliant Beck Tench, so what are waiting for? Head over to Experimonth website
And now, without further ado, here's one of 2013's most popular posts,
Many Ways To Say Thanks
Most donor recognition installations in museums are really ways to say thanks. And who could argue with that?
But you can thank someone with the equivalent of a cheap mass-produced
card you grabbed on your way home, or with the donor recognition version
of a homemade loaf of bread accompanied by a carefully chosen book
inscribed to the recipient.
Last month I asked museum folks for images of interesting and thoughtful
examples of donor recognition. I received an avalanche of images ---
many more than I'll include in this post, so I've gathered all the
images that I've received into a free
PDF available for download from the POW! website
Just click on the "Free Exhibit Resources
link near the center-top of any page on the website, and you'll see an
entire collection of free goodies, including the newly added link called
"Donor Recognition Examples."
Once you click on the link you'll get the PDF of images. (Be patient --- it's a BIG file.)
So what sorts of images and examples of donor recognition did I receive? They fell into several larger categories, namely:
• Frames and Plaques
• Walls and Floors
• Genre Specific
• Interesting Materials
• Digital Donor Devices
So let's take each of the six categories and show a few examples of each.
FRAMES and PLAQUES
I'm sure you've seen lots of bad examples of this donor recognition
approach, but there is a lot to be said for the simplicity (and creative
twists!) that can be employed using this technique.
The image at the top of this post is a nice example of "helping hands"
(but still essentially plaques) in this category from the Chicago
I like the use of colors and the physical arrangements in the following
two examples. The first pair of images comes from the Children's Museum
of Pittsburgh (with bonus colored shadows!)
The next is a sert of back-lit elements designed by Skolnick A+D
Partnership for the Children's Museum of Virginia --- The entire unit is
essentially one big lightbox!
Light is also used as a strong element in the image below from
Macalester College. The folks from Blasted Art used Rosco's Lite Pad
product to create the glowing text.
Lastly, I like this simple example from the MonDak Heritage Center. Just frames, but it does the job nicely.
WALLS and FLOORS
Sometimes donor recognition wants to be BIG, in an architectural sense,
so interior or exterior walls are used --- and sometimes even floors!
Here are two exterior wall examples that stood out. The first from the Creative Discovery Museum
And the second from the Oakland Museum. They are both colorful and animate nicely what would otherwise be a big blank wall.
Here's a nice interior wall from Discovery Gateway, in Salt Lake City
Each of the pieces is back-laminated graphics on acrylic. (Here's a detail.)
Of course, even the best-laid donor recognition plans can get circumvented by operational issues!
And lastly, here's a floor example from The National Museum of Nuclear
Science and History. It's the Periodic Table with donors in each
Several people sent examples of genre specific donor recognition
designs. A popular motif is to use collection objects or images,
especially in the case of Natural History Museums.
Here is the Specimen Wall
from the California Academy of Sciences. It's an elegant low-tech
solution that features specimen reproductions encased in laminated
glass. The wall was conceived by Kit Hinrichs and realized in
collaboration with Kate Keating Associates, with fabrication by
Martinelli Environmental Graphics and glass by Ostrom Glassworks.
Here's a clever use of old school tabletop jukeboxes to recognize donors
to radio station WXPN put together by Metcalfe Architecture &
Design in Philadelphia.
MECHANICAL / INTERACTIVE
In the same way that interactive exhibits are fun and memorable, donor recognition can be too!
Gears are a popular motif in this regard. The first image (Grateful
Gears) is from an installation at the Kentucky Science Center, while the
second is from the Madison Children's Museum.
Sometimes the design element that gets people to stop and actually read
the donor names are the unusual materials that the donor recognition
piece is made of. If the materials relate to the institution itself, so
much the better!
This first image comes from the San Francisco Food Bank
The next is from the Museum Center at 5ive Points, in Cleveland
Tennessee which has a strong history of copper mining. So this
intricate donor recognition piece is made from copper!
I love this clever use of miniature doors and windows at the Kohl
Children's Museum. You can open doors and windows to reveal additional
information about donors.
The last entry from this section is the truly striking three-dimensional
"Donor Tree" from the Eureka Children's Museum in the UK.
DIGITAL DONOR DEVICES
As with all museum installations, digital technology plays an increasing role --- even in Donor Devices.
One unit that stood out was this digital donor recognition device at the
National Historic Trails Center that solicits donations in real-time
and puts up digital "rocks" on the rock wall screen of different sizes
--- depending on the size of your donation, of course! A really neat
idea that beats a dusty old donation box, hands down.
As I mentioned earlier, these images are really the tip of the iceberg.
So please check out the entire PDF of all the images I received by
heading over to the "Free Exhibit Resources
" section of my website.
Also, if you have some other really good examples of donor recognition installations or devices, feel free to contact me and email them
along, and I can share them in future ExhibiTricks posts.
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