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Reflection on the Seminar in Exhibitions Course

Valerie Roberts, Class of 2019

Exhibits are what first got me excited about working in museums. The animatronic dinosaurs, the dioramas depicting ancient worlds, and the rich history displayed through images and text I experienced as a child that first introduced me to my love of learning and museums. There is something about transforming a space to transport a visitor into a completely different world and to help them learn new and interesting information. This was why I was so excited to take the Seminar in Exhibitions class. I wanted to learn how to create those spaces.

This class opened my eyes to the many considerations that a museum professional needs to think about to make those amazing learning spaces become the living stories they are.  Over the ten-week term, the class explores subjects from the development and research of topics to the design of an exhibit space to the creation of safe and engaging interactives that don’t break in a week. In addition, it  provides an outline of exactly what goes into an exhibit proposal, which is an essential piece of working in exhibits.

Additionally, in the course you get an opportunity to learn how to make mounts in a workshop and take a tour of Pacific Studio, a local exhibit design firm. Seeing and learning how to make practical pieces for exhibits was very enlightening and it gave me great perspective on what it takes to make the complex exhibits I love so much.

The final project is very intense. We  created an exhibit brief that would normally take a year to complete, but we do it  in less than three months. There are many different components to the assignment and a lot of research, work and learning that happens. But, in the end, we  had a complete exhibit brief that we can put our name to and put in our portfolios. It is an amazing and valuable experience.

There is so much to learn about exhibit development and so many phases that go into the exhibits and this class does a great job hitting each of those areas. I personally feel this class could be three classes, because there are so many different facets to exhibit design that I wanted to dive into deeper and wanted to take my time developing further. This class does give you an amazing scope of the complexity of a very fun part of museum work – developing exhibits. Whether you are considering working specifically with exhibits or simply want to expand your skill set, this class is still a great addition to  your toolkit.