Creating a new exhibit in the Museum of Anthropology was one of the assignments for our Intro to Museum Work Class. I requested special permission to redo this exhibit and had three other girls from my class working with me. The exhibit was used frequently, because learning about the Great Basin is required learning for 4th graders in Utah. And as the exhibit needed a serious face lift, I felt it was an important project. We had about 3 months to finish our work.
The picture below is the Great Basin exhibit we had to revamp.
We stripped the exhibit down and got planning.
|Exhibit under construction!|
|The exhibit space was narrow and long.|
Once we had approval from the museum director for our ideas, we put in a paper mock-up.
|Our exhibit mock-up of artifacts, text, and exhibit structure.|
You can also see the paint chips in there for our color scheme.
Next we painted the exhibit with the creamy yellow we had chosen. We wanted the exhibit to be a different color than any other exhibit in the museum. This yellow was a great choice which made it really stand out! Once it dried, we put the paper mock-ups back in and constructed the base of our structure - a desert floor with a food cache. We had some great tips from an exhibit constructor at the Idaho Museum of Natural History for building our food cache. The main material used? Rigid insulation foam! I wish I had pictures of how we put that together. It was a huge mess cutting the foam and none to easy either.
|Painted exhibit with mock-ups and foam structure|
The next steps were finishing the desert floor and food cache, finding pictures of edible plants Great Basin Indians used, writing up text, and finding an appropriate map to be used in the exhibit. (A map was essential!)
We had to be careful in what natural materials were placed in the exhibit. We used sterilized playground sand stuck to dyed drywall plaster, washed rocks, plastic plants bought from the craft store, and cedar bark kept in a freezer to kill any bugs present and then used to line the food cache. Bugs in a museum full of wool and cotton artifacts is a nightmare! So, extra caution is always necessary and vitally important.
Another important aspect of putting together an exhibit is that if you use photographs or artwork, you need to make sure you have permission to use the images in your exhibit. Being that we were a non-profit university museum, we didn't have any problems getting permission, but it took a lot of time and we had to be really on top of it making sure we heard back from everyone. The plant pictures came from a great academic botany website where botanists post pictures of plants from all around the world. It was an awesome resource for us and the photographs were beautiful.
During this whole time we were also doing research on the Great Basin and writing and rewriting text for the exhibit.
|The exhibit slowly coming together!|
One of the original inspirations was to have projectile points seemingly floating in the air. To do this we had to choose projectile points from the collection and mount them to a piece of plexi-glass by drilling holes in the plexi-glass and attaching the points using museum wax and fishing line. Then we suspended it from the ceiling of the exhibit. It turned out awesome!
In the final stages of the exhibit construction we had to make up the exhibit sign, text, photos, and map in Photoshop, print them all off and send them off to be mounted on foam core and cut. The Photoshop work alone took many, many hours. There were a few mistakes in the foam core mounting, so we had to get some redone. Then we mounted them inside the exhibit case, mounted/hung/set in the artifacts, cleaned the glass, hung the sign, and we were done! Whew!
|Our completed exhibit!|
Can you see the "floating" projectile points?
Well, there is your inside look at constructing an exhibit. If you have any questions, leave me a comment below!