Skip to content

Designing for Dance: An Experimental Exhibit Design for an Art Museum

Project by Lauren Carroll (2018)

Dance has been performed in museums and gallery spaces for decades rising to prominence during the 1960s with post-modern performances and choreographers, but it has rarely been exhibited as an artform. The basic practice of exhibiting dance and other performance arts in museums is challenging. Dance movements and choreography are full of intentions, motivations, context, and history that can be explored if exhibited properly. The ideas of kinesthetic learning and embodiment have not previously been utilized in the exhibition of dance within museums. This project explored how to exhibit dance effectively in a museum setting by developing an exhibition for the Museum of Northwest Arts that explored the romanticized historic period of the Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny, and which is embodied George Balanchine’s Western Symphony. By integrating a dance component into an art exhibition, this project experimented with ways to transmit knowledge and content relating both the historical subject matter and the dance choreography in an engaging, approachable, and accessible manner. Exhibition best practices were used in order to understand how to physically involve visitors in the exhibit and formative evaluation was conducted to test the effectiveness of kinesthetic interactive activities in relation to dance. By combining interactive kinesthetic elements with traditional exhibit components, a broad range of learning styles were accommodated, and early visitor reactions were positive. The product of this project was an exhibition portfolio for an exhibit titled Spell of the West which will be installed in January 2019. This project serves as a significant example to the museum community of how to include and exhibit performance arts in museums, thus encouraging greater inclusion of different art mediums and learning styles.

Keywords: Class of 2018, Museum Studies, Museology, Museum, Art Museum, Dance, kinesthetic, kinesthetic learning, exhibit


Carroll, L. (2018). Designing for Dance: An Experimental Exhibit Design for an Art Museum. Unpublished master’s project, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.