Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

New homes for old exhibits

Saturday, March 13th, 2010 by Wendy Pollock

Paul Orselli has started a Google Group Exhibits Exchange for those looking for new homes for “retired” exhibits. Check it out at

As Paul says, “Think green! Help find a ‘second home’ for the many well-used (but still usable) “retired” exhibits, instead of letting them gather dust in storage or being tossed out!”

And when you post a listing there, consider posting a case study or a ‘Bit over here on ExhibitFiles  (and linking to it), to share your experiences here, too.

Informal Science Education Summit 2010

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 by Wendy Pollock

ExhibitFiles contributors are among the 450 people who’ve gathered in Washington, D.C., this week for the biennial ISE Summit, organized by the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) with support from the National Science Foundation.

NSF’s ISE program has funded a number of projects – CAISE,, and ExhibitFiles among them – that together are building what some have called an “improvement infrastructure” for the informal science education field. The 240+ case studies and reviews, and the growing number of Bits, contributed by ExhibitFiles members are an important part of the collective memory that’s supporting good work i our field.

From Visitor Response to Visitor Artistic Creation

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 by Kathy McLean

I just returned from the Visitor Studies Association (VSA) annual conference in Houston. This year’s theme was “Theory, Practice & Conversations,” and the conference was structured for attendee participation—the opening plenary was pitched as potentially “one of the best opening sessions ever, as the speaker is . . . YOU!”

What made the conference such a success this year—and judging from all the wonderful comments I’ve received, I am convinced it was a success—is that the conference organizers focused on drawing out and featuring participant artistic creativity and expression. Not just talk-backs and graffiti boards for attendees to respond to and comment on the conference, but activities and times where attendees could BE CREATIVE—through poetry, art-making, and even interpretive dance (yes, interpretive dance, which might sound silly, but was actually very energizing).

Throughout the course of the conference, I was struck by a sense that conference attendees were behaving a bit differently. They were more animated, they seemed to be interacting with each other more openly, and the conversations seemed to be more about possibilities than problems. Of course (and ironically, given that this was a Visitor Studies Conference) I have no data to back this up, and I am biased to the extreme. But I kept drawing parallels to visitors in our museums and exhibitions.

The presence of opportunities for visitor artistic creation undoubtedly changes the ways they experience the rest of the museum. In addition to asking visitors to respond to our creative work, how can we create situations where visitors do the creating? I have long been a proponent of visitor co-design, and am interested in pushing that idea a bit, to consider exhibits where visitors have been given the creative control in MAKING the experience. Do any of you have examples to share with us?

Tapping the wisdom of the crowd

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 by Wendy Pollock

Earlier discussion about the relationship between ExhibitFiles and the ISEN-ASTC-L list got us thinking. Paul Orselli notes that topics recur and wonders whether we could create an FAQ or resource drawn from the list archive. Like Paul, we wondered whether there is a way to integrate ExhibitFiles and the list, with its well-established community of 1,370+ members. And then: Is there a way to tap the collective wisdom of the exhibit community to add value to the discussions already happening on the list? We’ve come up with these ideas:

  • Draw ISEN-ASTC-L messages directly into the ExhibitFiles site, identifying threads and perhaps adding photos for registered ExhibitFiles users. (We would notify ISEN-ASTC-L subscribers, of course, and also encourage them to register as ExhibitFiles users.)
  • Add a simple rating system: “Did you find this message useful? Yes or No
  • Enable registered ExhibitFiles users to add messages (and threads) to a list of “favorites” within their profiles

These ratings would then help sift out what’s of most lasting interest and make it available for others.

Andrea Bandelli (drawing on James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds) has reflected elsewhere about the qualities that make a crowd “smart.” “It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd’s answer. It needs a way of summarizing people’s opinion into one collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.”

We hope that the design approach we envision will help us, collectively, tap the wisdom of the exhibit “crowd.”