Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Taking on Unpaid Internships with Sweatober!



The National Emerging Museum Professionals Network (NEMPN) is taking aim at unpaid internships, seeking to end the practice in museums, libraries, and archives. The Network launched its inaugural "Sweatober" campaign to fund previously unpaid internships in museums and to encourage individuals to “sweat to pay interns.”

A dual-purpose campaign, Sweatober operates like a walk-a-thon, encouraging participants to “get moving” and to raise funds while they do it. Participants can register as teams or individuals, and donors can offer support by the number of exercise minutes recorded or with a flat monetary donation. Participants commit to a minimum of 200 minutes and to raise $200. The campaign also features branded gear, and all proceeds support the program.

“We launched Sweatober to bring attention to unpaid internships and the detriment they cause to young professionals’ early careers and their long-term earning and career potential,” said Sierra Van Ryck de Groot, co-President of the NEMPN Board of Directors. “NEMPN hears from far too many young professionals who enter the museum field only to find that they can’t afford the career that they’ve chosen, and then they have to give up their passion. Unpaid internships, which presently make up most of the opportunities in the field, play a significant role in this.”

As of August 2021, more than 40-percent of internships across all industries in the United States remain unpaid, and students with unpaid internships on their resumes can expect to earn far less at full-time jobs than those with paid internships.

According to Van Ryck de Groot, part of the problem is that internships are often required for incoming museum professionals to get an interview for a full-time position. “In museums, we consistently see entry-level positions with base entry-level pay requiring two to three years of relevant work experience on top of a degree,” she said. “This means that those coming into the field out of college must secure an internship for three out of four years of their college experience, and paid internships are rare.”

Unpaid internships create troubling trends in pay inequity for paid professionals. In the museum industry, incoming professionals with a four-year degree can expect to earn less than $40,000 per year on average across all U.S. cities, and those with unpaid internships don’t have the connections, experience, or salary history to leverage towards a job. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found in 2016 that the non-profit job offer rate for graduates with paid internships on their resumes was 51.7-percent versus 41.5-percent for those with unpaid internships. Compounding the problem, the study found that entry-level non-profit professionals who completed unpaid internships were offered up to $10,500 less than those who had secured paid internships.

“Young professionals who take on unpaid internships start their careers on unequal footing,” said Sierra Polisar, co-President of the NEMPN Board of Directors. “They’re conditioned to believe that experience and the mission are more important than being able to pay your bills, and often, they’re paying tuition for internship credits in addition to not getting paid. On top of that, they are often missing out on the types of learning and networking experiences that come with paid internships, where organizations are more invested in the outcome. All of these things make it difficult to get an interview, get an offer, and negotiate for your present and your future.”

In addition to Sweatober, NEMPN will soon launch its signature Dreamweavers program to give internship coordinators the tools to transform their unpaid internship programs into paid learning experiences. “The goal of Dreamweavers is to put an end to unpaid internships and also to transform internships that don’t teach actionable skills into opportunities for interns to learn from people who are invested in their long-term success,” said Polisar. Dreamweavers launches in early 2022.

To join the Sweatober campaign against unpaid internships, register a team or donate at the Pledgeit Sweatober Campaign Headquarters.

To grab your Sweatober gear, visit the NEMPN Sweatober Store.




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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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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Museum People Resources Alert: Hook Your Audience


Dr. Paul McCrory
runs HOOK Training Ltd, a company devoted to helping educators engage their learners. His approach combines interactive performance techniques and psychology. He has spent over 20 years working as an informal science educator and trainer in the UK, Ireland, and internationally. The most interesting thing about Paul is that he has a Ph.D. in being interesting.

Paul has recently released an essential resource for anyone in museums who interacts with the public -- a book called "Hook Your Audience."  

Hook Your Audience is a toolkit of performance techniques to emotionally engage child and family audiences in interactive, educational presentations. Its main purpose is to encourage you to reflect more deeply on exactly how you hook your learners using a variety of engagement techniques. Many of these hooks are borrowed from other professional performers, such as magicians, stand-ups, street performers, and actors.

I found some great tips inside Hook Your Audience, and I'm sure you will, too!  

In light of the impact of Covid-19 on the informal education sector, Paul has generously made the full text of the book available online until the end of October 2021. 

Paul was also kind enough to respond to a few questions about his work and his new book for ExhibiTricks readers.  Enjoy!


What got you interested in being a science presenter?

As a child, I was obsessed with two things — science and magic. Performing magic shows allowed me — for a limited time — to overcome my natural shyness and introversion. As an adult, I discovered that I could combine elements of both of these passions to perform science demo shows which provoked emotions in my audience. I'm still shy and introverted, but for the duration of a show, I'm able to exaggerate other parts of my personality to engage the audience ... on a good day :-)  I love being able to trigger other people to experience some of the wonderful emotions I have when I encounter the scientific phenomena which surround us.
 
A pivotal moment in this journey was studying for an MSc in Communicating science at Techniquest science centre in Cardiff, Wales. This is when I stumbled upon what I wanted to do as a career — exploring ways of getting people curious about science by demonstrating how it affects so much of our lives. Latterly, this has morphed into a deeper quest searching for the psychological interest hooks that make some things universally interesting to almost everybody. I've become obsessed with trying to collect and categorise these hooks.



Tell us a little bit more about your Hook Your Audience book.

When I was studying for my MSc, I became frustrated at not being able to find books that explained how to engage audiences as a professional science presenter. It seemed you had to learn everything through peer wisdom and training in your organisation, from watching other presenters or by discovering it yourself through performing. All of these sources are important and necessary, but having to rely solely on them — rather than leveraging books to give you a head start — struck me as extremely inefficient and slow.

So in a short appendix to a module assignment on presentation skills, I started a life-long habit of reflecting on my performances and capturing the techniques I was using or observing in other presentations. Over 21 years (including a Ph.D. on how educators can create interest through their performance), a 20-page appendix grew into a 90k word book. 

Hook Your Audience (Volume 1) is a toolkit of performance techniques to emotionally engage child and family audiences in interactive, educational presentations. It's aimed at career informal educators working in visitor attractions or outreach organisations. One of the central ideas behind the book is that, in informal education, nobody has to listen to you. So without being able to win and keep the attention of your audience, all of your other objectives are impossible to achieve. The question is — how do you do this? Spoiler alert - engage their emotions and interact with them. 

There. That'll save you reading the whole book :-)  

Sometimes people ask me about the "Volume 1" in the title. This book covers the first half of the delivery toolkit (character; liveness; expressing emotions; all-audience interaction; volunteers; questions; humour) and, somewhat predictably, volume 2 should address the other delivery tools (e.g. creating focus through your voice and body; suspense and surprise; telling stories; explaining; images, props and demos; and managing audience behaviour).



What are some of your favorite resources for people interested in finding out about how to give interactive science presentations?
 
I spend much of my life being a liminal — I lurk on the edges of many different fields and look for ideas that transfer well into the worlds of education and presenting. There's lots we can learn from other fields where attention is fiercely competitive, e.g. performing artists (such as magicians, stand-ups, actors, street performers, improvisers, children's entertainers); advertisers and copywriters; journalists; filmmakers and screenwriters; playwrights and theatre directors; computer game and app designers; fiction writers; viral video stars. All of these people live, or die, by how well they can sustain the attention of their voluntary audiences. Many of the principles and techniques in Hook Your Audience have been borrowed from other professional performing arts.

Three books from completely different genres that I would recommend to any science presenter to help them reflect on how they engage their audiences are:

●  Maximum Entertainment 2.0, by Ken Weber — one of my favourite books about performing skills for magicians. It gives a glimpse into the incredible deliberation and attention to detail professional performers invest in every part of their act.

●  Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath — brilliantly decontructs what makes ideas sticky in our minds. Should be required reading for every formal or informal educator. You can get a flavour of the strategies they cover from this free resource, framed for teachers - https://heathbrothers.com/download/mts-teaching-that-sticks.pdf

●  Khrushchev's shoe: And Other Ways To Captivate An Audience Of One To One Thousand, by Roy Underhill — this undiscovered gem of a book contains a wealth of wisdom about keeping the attention of your audience. Its author has had an eclectic career in theatre, demonstrating at an outdoor museum and hosting one of the longest-running educational programmes on American television, but he is a master teacher at heart.



What do you think is the “next frontier” for science presenters?
 
If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it's the danger of making confident predictions about what will happen in this world so shaped by humans, for both good and ill. However, I'll try and answer this question by using three perspectives that I believe will each affect how the medium of the science demo show evolves - there are so many exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

a) Science Show Issues
Science presenters are already starting to address some of these issues, but we are still at the beginning of this process, e.g. 
●  widening the range of subjects explored in science shows beyond the physical sciences; 
●  investigating how shows can be used to discuss ethical questions and to motivate long-term attitude and behaviour change;         
●  exploiting the power of story to create more engaging and memorable shows;
●  more clearly revealing how science works (a key factor in building the public's trust in science); 
●  incorporating robust findings from science communication, education, and psychological research into how we devise and deliver shows, where they exist;              
●  using the latest AV technology to bring scientific ideas to life on the stage (e.g. augmented reality)  and to better interact with the audience (e.g. using audience polling, and even physiological measurement of their emotional states, to shape the direction of a live show);
●  finding meaningful ways to evaluate the impact of one-off shows, but doing so in a way that doesn't damage the precious experience we trying to create.                     

b) Societal Trends 
Science shows thankfully aren't written in a vacuum. They are informed by concerns and changes in society. These trends include — striving to make our shows more inclusive and diverse in order to connect with more people; considering how to better support presenters who are experiencing mental health difficulties because of the pressures of the constant need to emote on demand for their job; and developing engaging virtual show formats that are likely to remain an option in our future hybrid world. 

c) The P Word  
There is an elephant in the room affecting the science show sector — the fundamental need to professionalise everything we do as science presenters. We need to be much more intentional about every aspect of how we write, rehearse and deliver science shows. We need to create the frameworks that exist in other professions — a range of resources to support the development of presenters over their career; a structure that allows for career progression in the organisations in which presenters work; and, if not agreed standards, at least begin a discussion about what constitutes an effective science show for particular objectives.



If money were no object, what would your “dream” project be?

My dream project? Imagine if the Blue Man Group devised a spectacular science demo stage show.  A performance that moved the audience to experience the full gamut of emotions invoked by awesome demonstrations of the power and the mysteries of science.

Now I'm not saying that every science show should have these goals and production values, but I'm convinced there's room for science demo shows in the harsh commercial arenas of the West End or Broadway. Part of the motivation for this dream is the romantic in me harking back to the early days of theatrical science demonstrations when "wonder shows" were all the rage. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the public queued up to witness dramatic stage demos revealing the latest scientific breakthroughs. One of the saddest aspects of modern life for me is that so many of us seem to have lost the capacity to feel wonder.


Thanks again to Dr. Paul McCrory for sharing his thoughts with ExhibiTricks readers -- make sure to check out Hook Your Audience by clicking over to Paul's website!
 




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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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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Talking Across a Gap -- A Guest Post from Gillian Thomas


After a career leading museum projects in the UK and US, with early experience in France, and advising in a wide range of countries across the world, Gillian Thomas is now an international consultant on cultural projects for trusts, foundations, and governments. She enjoys helping people identify what they really want to do and then overcoming any obstacles to doing it – from vision to reality.

Gillian has kindly shared her timely essay below with ExhibiTricks readers. Enjoy!


Talking Across a Gap

We talk a lot about people having a voice, not having a voice, not having a seat at the table – but the question is more about who is listening and is this reciprocal? All too often we are putting out opinions, asking for feedback but maybe not really wanting it and rarely really wanting to change what we think or do as a result. This does tend to make feedback more angry and loud, in an attempt to really be heard. 
Whether we are talking about age gaps or about different societal groups, especially if feeling unheard, unappreciated, we are much more prone to shout our position than to hear and think about the position of others. Perhaps we need to relearn how to talk to one another which means listening and trying to understand.

This summer has been a time for change as COVID restrictions were lifted somewhat yet still impact everything we do. An influx of visitors, after not having seen anyone for a while, made me value the conversation and also realize this requires an effort. Age range was one aspect of our guests, from 10 to 85, with some limited diversity. Food is another: while sharing a meal, it is much more difficult to have a full-blown argument with shouting and much easier to listen to something you don’t agree with if you have something delicious to chew. With several people around a table, you also have time to think, listen to more than one viewpoint. Ah, you may say, that’s because you weren’t the one doing the cooking – but I was. However, this gave me an added pleasure of seeing people enjoying the food and also the chance to walk away for a moment, if I needed a breather. 
 
Learning how to talk without offending each other yet being able to express one’s views, as opposed to just keeping quiet, can be a challenge. This is, I think, a skill we could learn – but it requires patience on both sides. I’ve got it wrong lots of times, saying something, making assumptions – some I realized and some probably not, so I would like to be better able to understand those I don’t currently either understand or agree with. Why? Our society needs solidarity, we need to work together for the common good and to get the commitment necessary to solve the major challenges we face. If we waste energy shouting at each other, we don’t make progress. 

So conversations across the gaps need to be encouraged and here are a few guidelines for a starter:

•  Get a mixture, not just one person that is different in some way
•  Small group, 6-10, around a table with food
•  No topic is needed, these emerge, but if stuck, what the future offers gets most people going
•  Accept this doesn’t have to go anywhere, it’s just a chance to get to understand others better and to sometimes challenge’s one’s own positions and attitudes.


This may seem like a very anodyne way forward – but I’ve learned a lot, and enjoyed it. 

Food always helps and if someone gets very argumentative, you can always ask them to help you in the kitchen.


Thanks, Gillian, for sharing some excellent food for thought!  



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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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Monday, September 13, 2021

Decisions, Decisions! Problem-Solving Tools for Designers



The "design process" is often a "decision-making process."

And often the key to decision-making success comes through using the proper tools.

That's where the Untools website comes in.  Untools is a collection of thinking tools to help you solve problems, make decisions, and understand systems.

The Untools folks have collected (and continually add to) different types of decision-making ideas and frameworks that you can try out right away and use to kick-start your design thinking.

I especially liked the Prompt Questions section of the Untools website that helps you choose the right thinking tool(s) for your particular purpose(s).


Why not decide to click on over to the Untools website right now?



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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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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

More FREE Exhibit Resources!



Who doesn't like free stuff?  Here are links to some great exhibit design resources that come from the POW! website:


A constantly updated compendium of resources for museum design and exhibit fabrication (including websites and contact information.) Need to find fake food, giant sequins, or adaptive devices? Check out the GBER List!  And contact me if you have a resource you think should be added to the list.


The idea for the Exhibit Cheapbooks started during sessions at the annual Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Conference with the purpose of sharing "cheap" exhibit ideas and creating a written record of how to replicate these simple and successful exhibit components.

The four Exhibit Cheapbooks have always celebrated the "sharing" nature of museums. You will find varied exhibit ideas from museum colleagues from around the world inside each volume. Sincere thanks to everyone who has shared their ideas and expertise! And special thanks to ASTC for allowing all the Exhibit Cheapbooks material to be shared freely online.



Check out these interesting and informative video conversations with museum professionals from around the world.  Topics run the gamut from museum management, community engagement, digital exhibits, and more!  Click the link above for the video gallery or go directly to the POW! YouTube site.



You can also find downloadable exhibit articles and other museum exhibit design resources by clicking over to the main resource page on the POW! website.

Do you have some other great resources to share?  Tell us about them in the COMMENTS Section below!




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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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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Positive Projects // Projecting Positivity


I've decided to take a little "break" from paying too much attention to the news because it makes me unhappy.

So for this post, I've decided to highlight two different museum/cultural projects that focus on the happiness and well-being of museum visitors and cultural consumers.





The 
Reasons To Be Cheerful website is an interactive mapped compendium of projects around the world arranged by topics such as Energy, Health, Culture, and Education. You zoom around the map to find out more about the people and groups moving projects forward to make a better world.

Worth checking out by clicking here.





As stated on the Happy Museum website, the project "supports museum practice that places wellbeing within an environmental and future-facing frame, rethinking the role that museums can play in creating more resilient people, places, and planet. Through action research, academic research, peer networking and training it supports institutional and community wellbeing and resilience in the face of global challenges."

The Happy Museum website is well-stocked with resources and thoughtful findings that can provide ways of moving your institution or personal practice toward supporting institutional and community wellbeing and resilience in the face of global financial and environmental challenges.



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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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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Design Inspiration: Sui Park's Cable Tie Creations



One of my favorite definitions of creativity is "using familiar things in unfamiliar ways."  By that criteria, Sui Park is truly creative.




Sui Park is a New York-based artist born in Seoul, Korea. Her work involves creating 3-dimensional biomorphic shapes out of industrial materials like cable ties.




What kinds of familiar materials or ideas could you use in unfamiliar ways?  

Click on over to Sui Park's website to see more of her work and gather some creative design inspiration.





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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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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Making Your (Creative) Fortune




Creativity and creative enterprises sometimes take unexpected paths.

I have a bag of fortune cookie fortunes that I've saved for over 30 years (obviously I like Chinese food AND fortune cookies!)


But I only save the "good" fortunes -- the ones that somehow resonate with me. (Now if my kids get a fortune they think is a "good" one, they save it for me too.)

Anyway, I was thinking about my bag of fortunes, and how they relate to the little unexpected nudges that send us down creative paths we might not have followed otherwise.

See that picture at the top of this post? That's Lin-Manuel Miranda reading a book in a hammock while on vacation.  But not just any book, it's the biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Miranda just wanted a "big book" to read while on vacation and somewhat randomly chose Chernow's historical tome.  And from that sequence of events, the smash-hit play Hamilton was born.

The musician Brian Eno, inspired by artist Peter Schmidt, developed a deck of cards called "Oblique Strategies."  Each card offers "a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking."  

Over the years, Eno has developed several Oblique Strategies decks that you can purchase, but there are also Oblique Strategies apps and online versions that offer creative suggestions like: "Slow preparation, fast execution" or "Steal a solution."

The composer John Cage used the I Ching to produce compositions called "indeterminate music." An example is "Music of Changes" in which all the musical and compositional decisions were determined by the I Ching.

So in the spirit of John Cage, I chose four fortunes at random from my collection to share, and to reflect on what they mean to me in the context of my creative design practice:




Sometimes in exhibit design (and in life!) there's no "perfect" choice, sometimes you just need to choose and move forward!





I like working with creative partners that don't need to always be right, but who are willing to engage in robust give-and-take and offering up options and solutions, not just criticisms.





It's good to be open to ideas that might not initially make sense.  (A hip-hop musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton? Nah, that will never work!)



Here's wishing all ExhibiTricks readers good creative "fortune" with their projects!
  

Do you have your own favorite ways to get past "creative block"? Share your ideas in the "Comments" section below!




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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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Monday, July 19, 2021

Design Inspiration: Mariko Kusumoto




Mariko Kusumoto was born in Japan where she studied art before continuing her education in San Francisco. Today, from her Lexington, Massachusetts studio, Kusumoto combines a love of the ocean, creative shapes, and found objects to create their work.




I'm especially inspired by the combinations of materials that Kusumoto uses to evoke oceanic plants and animals.




To find out more about the range of Mariko Kusumoto's work, click on over to her website or Instagram account.






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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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Friday, July 9, 2021

Museum Spirit?


Although he could have lived anywhere in the world, Louis Armstrong lived in a modest brick house on 107th Street in Corona, Queens from 1943 until he died in his sleep there in 1971.  I could have ferreted out that information on the Web, but instead, I learned about Louis Armstrong by actually visiting his house, which is now a museum and National Historic Landmark. With bar none, the coolest kitchen (below) I've ever seen.


Mrs. Armstrong's kitchen


There's something interesting in visiting a place and feeling, if not exactly the "ghosts" of the past, at least the "spirit" of the people who passed that way before you.  I have felt that way in visiting Graceland and the Mark Twain house, but also in very particular outdoor locations like The Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, or the shiny, silvery "bean" in Millennium Park in Chicago.  There was something very evocative in all of those spots  --- almost as if each one of those spaces had a "personality."

One of the best things I've ever heard said about the original Exploratorium was that it felt like you'd walked into Frank Oppenheimer's workshop after he just stepped outside for a minute.  The feeling that real people, with real interests and foibles, have created something for you to experience is one of the most powerful, and most authentic, of museum experiences.

This authentic museum "spirit" is not something that just casually occurs, or manifests itself through some sort of formulaic exhibit development process.  But when all the elements of such a museum experience come together, they form something that really cannot occur in any other medium.



As a little bonus about "Pops" here's a cool remembrance by Ricky Riccardi, the Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum, about the last music Armstrong listened to the day before he died.



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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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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Questioning the Core


One of the worst trends to come out of the continuing collision between COVID and museums is the notion of invoking the "core" purpose of an institution as a rationale for eliminating staff positions.

When a museum centers, and privileges, its building(s) and collections over its staff and visitors it sends a clear message, "We value stuff over staff, and buildings over programs."

When COVID forced the closure of precious museum buildings, institutions were forced to de-center their physical locations and create different types of offerings in the virtual world.  It has become clear that valuable, and in many ways, more accessible, programs can be offered by cultural organizations that are building-independent.


So how would museums be different:

• If they favored Staff over Stuff?  

• If collaborations with communities de-centered (both physically and mentally) museum buildings?

• If the notion of "core" went beyond just buildings and collections, and meaningfully encompassed staff and programs?



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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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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Thanks Dad! (Connecting Childhood Memories to Adult Careers)


Father's Day is a meaningful day for me, not only because I have four great kids, but because it gives me time to think about my father, Orlando Orselli, who died in 2001.  My dad certainly helped set many of my ideas about work and parenthood, and I'm thankful for that.

My dad worked most of his adult life for The Ford Motor Company, first at the Rouge Plant, and then at the World Headquarters building (The "Glass House") in Dearborn, Michigan.  He was a Stationary Steam Engineer, which basically means he worked with BIG boiler systems.

Even though he didn't go to college, my dad instilled a love for books and learning, and the importance of education, upon myself and my two younger brothers while we were growing up in Detroit.

Because he worked the midnight shift, he made time to go on school (or scout or Boys Club) field trips during the day and then take a nap before he would drive to work later that night. He thought it was important that my brothers and I helped him fix things around the house and knew the names and uses of the tools in his basement "workshop".

When people ask me how I got into the museum business, I am sure memories of the day when my father took me when I was little (by myself, without my mom and brothers, for some reason) to Detroit's "Cultural Center" to visit the Historical Museum (the streets of "Old Detroit"!) and the Children's Museum (things I could touch!) and the Institute of Arts (Mummies!) all in one long afternoon may have something to do with it.  Many, many family trips involved museums, or zoos, or nature centers.

Even though my career choice in museums might have puzzled my father a little bit, he always told me, and other people, how proud he was of the work I was doing.

Please never underestimate how important museums can be to people, especially kids and the adults they will become.

Thanks Dad!


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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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Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Exhibit Cheapbooks are now FREE!



The four Exhibit Cheapbooks are now available for FREE online!  

That's right -- nearly 100 free exhibit "recipes" contributed by museum colleagues from all over the world are now available to download as PDFs from the POW! website.  (Did I mention that they're FREE?)

A little history --the idea for the Exhibit Cheapbooks started during sessions at the annual Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Conference with the purpose of sharing "cheap" exhibit ideas and creating a written record of how to replicate these simple and successful exhibit components.

The very first "Cheapbook" was compiled and edited by Paul Orselli and published by ASTC in 1995. Subsequent volumes appeared in 1999, 2004, and 2014.

The Exhibit Cheapbooks have always celebrated the "sharing" nature of museums. You will find varied exhibit ideas from museum colleagues from around the world inside each volume. 

Sincere thanks to everyone who has shared their ideas and expertise by contributing ideas over the years! And special thanks to ASTC for allowing all the Exhibit Cheapbooks material to now be shared freely online.

Think of all these Exhibit Cheapbooks entries not as detailed shop drawings, but rather as creative jumping-off points for your own exhibit building.

So what are you waiting for?  Click on over to the Exhibits Cheapbooks Download Page and start making cheap exhibits!


Have fun!



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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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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Creative Inspiration: The Physics Videos of Julius Sumner Miller


"I'm Julius Sumner Miller, and physics is my business!"

So starts every short video in this wonderful series (now on YouTube) that strives to show and explain different aspects of physics.  

"Demonstrations in Physics" was an educational science series produced in Australia by ABC Television in 1969. The series was hosted by American scientist Julius Sumner Miller, who demonstrated experiments involving a wide range of physics topics.  

Despite the deliberately "old school" approach, and the rudimentary production techniques, the videos are tremendously engaging -- and yes, educational!

Professor Miller is a perfect teacher -- filled with enthusiasm, and with an array of clever homespun gizmos designed to illustrate the points of physics he discusses.

You can see an example of Professor Miller at work in the embedded video below, or by clicking over to YouTube.  Highly recommended!




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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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Friday, May 28, 2021

Two Projects (Red Dress and REDress)


I'd like to commend to your attention two different RED projects that use art to address important social issues.


The first, The Red Dress Project, conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod, provides an artistic platform for women to tell their personal stories through embroidery.

From The Red Dress Project website:

"During 11 years, from 2009 to 2020, the Red Dress traveled the globe being continuously embroidered. It has been embroidered on by 200 women and 2 men, from 28 countries, with all 111 commissioned artisans paid for their work (the rest of the embroidery was added by willing participants/audience at various exhibitions/events). 

Embroiderers include women refugees in Palestine; victims of civil war in Kosovo, Rwanda, and DR Congo; impoverished women in South Africa, Mexico, and Egypt; women in Kenya, Japan, Paris, Sweden, Peru, Czech Republic, Dubai, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, Canada, Tobago, USA, Russia, Pakistan, Wales, Colombia, and the UK, as well as upmarket embroidery studios in India and Saudi Arabia.

Most of the women are established master embroiderers, a few are artists turned first-time embroiderers. They were encouraged to tell a personal story they would like to share through embroidery, expressing their own identities, adding their own cultural and traditional experience. Some chose to create using a specific style of embroidery practiced for hundreds of years in their family, village, or town."

You can see many more images of The Red Dress Project by clicking over to their website or by watching the video embedded below or via YouTube.




The second project, The REDress Project, although similar in name, pursues different aesthetic and social goals, namely to create an installation art project that draws attention to the more than 1000 missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.  Artist Jaime Black uses hanging red dresses installed in various indoor and outdoor spaces to mark the absence of these missing and murdered women.



From the artist's statement:

"The REDress Project focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue. The project has been installed in public spaces throughout Canada and the United States as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence."


You can find out more about the REDress Project by visiting Jaime Black's website or by viewing the video embedded below or on YouTube.




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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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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Animal Crossing and International Museum Day!


Today's Guest Post about Animal Crossing and International Museum Day is by Tom Gille.


Today is International Museum Day, and although it might seem odd, I was reminded of this by a video game!

You may be familiar with Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) it's a very popular game for the Nintendo Switch. With 32 million copies sold worldwide and an award for Best Family Game of 2020, it has a huge and extremely loyal following among children and adults.

I began playing to have another way to spend time with my 5-year-old granddaughter. She loves it, as do her parents - they've also gotten aunts and uncles involved.

If you don’t know anything about ACNH, it’s a simulation game that allows players to move to a deserted island. Without going into greater detail, it's a real-time game that is tied to your time zone and season. The sun rises and sets as it does at your real home, and it snows in winter, etc. You can gather and craft items, customize the island, and form it into a community of anthropomorphic animals. 

One of the items you get to work on is the island museum:


 
You build the collection yourself by digging fossils or collecting insects:


 and buying famous works of art:


Just be careful who you buy the art from - the museum doesn’t accept fakes, and a knowledge of the actual art can help you spot them before you buy.

Since it's a real-time game, international holidays are celebrated with special events - things like Easter and Christmas (called Egg Day and Toy Day) and many others - and for today they have a Stamp Station event at the Animal Crossing Museum. (You can see some stamp stations in the pictures above.) Once you visit each of the stations in the museum halls you receive a special plaque for that hall.

 
Visitors are even greeted with a speech by the museum director:

“May 18th is International Museum Day, and to honor it, we’re holding a stamp rally! International Museum Day is a day to understand the wonder that only museums can provide. As a collecting place for all types of knowledge, museums are a critical resource for learners far and wide. Indeed, they can spark imaginations, making difficult ideas easier - and perhaps even more fun - to grasp. But to put it simply, International Museum Day is a day for getting to know your local museum!”

 


The grey-haired guy with the beard and glasses is my character, named Grumpdalf by my granddaughter. The museum director is a funny character named Blathers, a wise owl who gets carried away by his topics and talks a lot. He's also terrified of bugs, though he will accept them and tell you a lot of interesting information about them, and anything else you bring in. (It may be throwing a little shade to call him Blathers but it does fit many museum folks I know. It certainly fits me!)

Whether you play Animal Crossing: New Horizons or not (the event runs through the end of the month) take Blathers’ speech to heart and celebrate the wonder your local museum can provide. I couldn’t have blathered it better myself.


And just in case you think ACNH doesn't truly take museums seriously, here's a picture of the back of a fossil  -- what other video games use accession numbers?!?




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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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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Design Inspiration: Real-Time Data Sites


I love real-time data visualization websites!  In addition to being a perfect blend of science, art, and technology, the web-sights provide a soothing thrum of information that I find mesmerizing and relaxing.  I also think these sites are great inspirations for museum/exhibit/design ideas.

Some of my favorite real-time data sites are listed below:


Wind Map  gives a real-time visualization of wind speeds in the U.S. It's like a giant video infographic!  A more three-dimensional view of wind around the entire globe is available on the earth website (pictured at the top of this post.)



Line of Sight provides a way for you to track satellites and other human-created space materials flying over your current location.


While you are up in the air, check out planefinder.net  a site that lets you pick out the location of commercial aircraft during their flights.



Coming back to Earth, you can track tectonic activity by seeing the geographic locations of active earthquakes and volcanoes at this site, or view National Weather Service satellite data, including infrared, visible light, and water vapor views.



Finishing up on the terrestrial side, EarthCam is a website that lets you easily choose and view real-time webcam feeds from interesting places around the world.



I'll finish out this post with a digital "eye candy" site. Google Trends Hot Searches gives you a constantly scrolling feed of current trending searches on their popular search site.



I hope clicking on these sites gives you some inspiration and enjoyment!  Did we miss any of your favorite real-time data sites? Let us know about them in the "Comments" section below!



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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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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Creating A Worldwide "Museum Memory" Tour



The continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on museums, and museum-goers, has me remembering many of my favorite museum experiences.

I have many museum memories, but if I had to think about just one that I keep coming back to, it would definitely be the series of frescoes, collectively called the Detroit Industry Murals, created by Diego Rivera and housed in a sunlit space inside the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Besides being a registered National Historic Landmark, Rivera's frescoes have been compared favorably to those in the Sistine Chapel. But the reason I enjoy the frescoes in the Rivera Court has so much to do with the powerful feelings of awe and appreciation I feel every time I walk around that space.

I share this post in the hopes of creating a worldwide "museum memory" tour of sorts. 

Please tell me about the museum experiences that are meaningful to you by sharing your own thoughts, images, and links.





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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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