Monday, September 27, 2010

Assignment #4: Exhibit Design

This week, we’re supposed to think about how we would design the First Person Museum, if given the chance, and outline a plan, using Parman’s six steps.1
Step 1: Mission Statement, Take-home Message, and Storyline
I’m actually a fan of the idea and mission behind First Person Arts and the First Person Museum, but here I’ll attempt to put it into my own words. In my idealized museum the mission statement might be that: The FPM is dedicated to sharing the stories and histories of everyday, yet immensely important, objects that belong to the varied members of the Philadelphia community. The take-home message from the museum would be something along the lines of: Even the most unassuming objects can have real importance to their owners and all objects come with a social/cultural/political/historical context that can be fascinating. And the storyline of the exhibit would be close to something saying: Ordinary objects, even in their everyday context, are important, meaningful, and can teach us a lot about the culture or society they are found in (or are absent from).
Step 2: Organization
I think it would be really interesting to have people move through the exhibit going from objects that are seemingly (key word here) the most valuable or important, to the least. My hopes are that in doing so that people might re-evaluate what makes something important or special or valuable to them, and to the larger community in which they live.
Step 3: Content
This is the best part about the FPM, the content is whatever is important to the contributors, and I wouldn’t rework this idea even if I could. Also, I would keep the pairing of the object story and the object history as the amount of “factual” information displayed with each object.
Step 4: Motivate and Engage
Interactive areas are my favorite part of museums (aren’t they everyones?) In my  idealized FPM there would be tons of interactive areas, where people can touch different stuffed animals or dolls from different times and places, or can look through catalogues of passport images or maps, or maybe places where the visitors can write with different types of pens, or tie-dye their own t-shirts! (Okay some of these are more realistic than others, in fact most aren’t really that realistic at all. Surprisingly my favorite part of museums was the hardest part for me to incorporate into my own.)
I do know however, that I think it would be awesome that if a the end of the exhibit, while walking towards the exit, the walls were blank white, and all the visitors were given markers and asked to write what they would include, if given the chance. It would give people a chance to feel like they were participating, and might give other visitors more insight into what is important to others in their community.
Step 5: Look and Feel
I love the idea of having the objects displayed in their “natural settings”. But I want everything else to be bright colors, and bold design. I want the decor to be over the top and maybe even a little flamboyant, to really emphasize that the important objects in this museum are the more practical, mundane ones.
Step 6: Blue-print
I did my best with my limited artistic ability and aptitude for computer blue-printing to come up with my idea of what my FPM would look like (without spatial or financial restraints of course.)

1) Parman, Alice. Exhibit Makeovers: Do-It-Yourself Exhibit Planning. 2010. History News; Volume 65.

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