Sunday, September 22, 2019

Searching for Index Cards in Bulgaria

I recently returned from a trip to Bulgaria as part of the Fulbright Specialist program (which I will report on in more detail in a future ExhibiTricks post!)

But for now, I want to talk about index cards.  In the U.S. these small rectangles of card stock (examples pictured above at the top of this post)  help people organize everything from recipes to doctoral dissertations.  So I thought nothing of it when I asked my Fulbright project partners at Muzeiko in Sofia to order some index cards for us to use during our staff development and exhibit training workshops together.

It turns out that index cards are not really a thing in Bulgaria. 

Even after exchanging a number of emails with pictures and links, my project partners at Muzeiko reported that if I wanted to use index cards for our exhibit development exercises, I would have to bring my own.

So I put a large supply of index cards into my suitcase and we happily used those cards to sort through exhibit ideas and possibilities together in Sofia.

The folks at Muzeiko immediately saw the advantage of these handy little tools and remarked that they were "better than paper slips" at organizing ideas because the index cards were durable and savable and could also be folded or punched through to help connect and express ideas.

Also several of the participants mentioned that they didn't really think about "chunking" ideas (or breaking complex ideas into smaller parts) when they were developing and designing exhibits -- perhaps because they didn't have a tool like index cards to work with?

All of this has me thinking about the tools we use, or don't use (or don't even know that exist!) when we are doing our work in museums.  Could there be some "index cards" out there that could be helping you do your own creative work in new and different ways?  Feel free to share your own favorite creative/creation tools in the "Comments Section" below.

P.S. In the spirit of international cooperation, I left my entire supply of index cards with my friends at Muzeiko.  I can't wait to see what new ideas they come up with by using them!

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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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