A number of years ago, science center consultant extraordinaire Harry White put together a fun way to collect some exhibit wisdom together in a handy, portable package -- the Exhibit Aphorisms decks!
The idea of an aphorism is to put some core truth in a memorably flippant way so that people who are “in the know” recognize it and those who don’t, think about it some more.
So, the Exhibit Aphorisms decks are just like a standard deck of cards, except the face of each card contains a thought-provoking, exhibit-related saying or quote.
Here are a few examples:
The first is from Ken Gleason:
The Three Ways an Exhibit Must Work.
If they don't use it, it can't achieve anything.
It must work, keep working and be safe.
What we're for, and why we're doing it. 1 & 2 lead here.
From Ian Simmons:
"The Survival of the Dullest"
Good exhibits are popular, get used, and therefore break down.
Dull exhibits don't get used, and so don't break down.
Therefore all interactive exhibitions, without maintenance, eventually tend towards the dull.
Others are shorter and reflect bitter experience:
Sufficient ruggedization of loose parts turns them into weapons.
For every hole or gap, there is a corresponding human limb or appendage to get wedged in it.
Making easy exhibits is difficult.
Making easy exhibits difficult is easy.
Then some come in pairs:
Any component which is ideal, cheap, and universally available will be discontinued by the time the exhibit that uses it is fully developed.
Any component that doesn't exist, so you have to devise it at great cost, will be in the next McMaster-Carr catalog.
Not all are directly about exhibits:
“Nobody flunked a Science Centre.”
“The probability of somebody doing the absolutely inconceivable is never exactly zero.”
H. Richard Crane
“Visitors come to a Science Centre because it’s cheaper than the movies and less exhausting than the swimming pool.”
Because the Exhibit Aphorism decks have never formally been for sale, getting hold of a deck has mainly involved running into Harry at a museum conference and asking for one. (Although word on the street is that a Kickstarter campaign may be starting to introduce an updated Version 1 and a brand new Version 2 of the decks -- so stay tuned!)
But here's your COVID-safe, travel-free chance to win one of two FREE Exhibit Aphorisms decks, because we are doing an
For your chance to win, simply send an email to info (at) orselli (dot) net with the subject line, "I want an Exhibit Aphorisms deck!" before February 28, 2021. That's it. We will randomly select two winners and contact them directly after the 28th.
Good luck, and remember:
"A consultant is a person who borrows your watch and then charges to tell you the time."
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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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