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Daniel Spock

  • What I do, where I work

  • I’m the Director of the Minnesota History Center Museum program which includes exhibits, educational programs, visitor services and facilities management.

Positions

  • Guide at Adler Planetarium

  • Exhibit Designer at Boston Children's Museum

  • Exhibit Developer at Museum of Creativity

  • Head of Exhibitions at MN Historical Society

Website(s)

  • More about me

  • I’ve been in the museum field for 25 years now starting out as a planetarium guide. Over the course of this career I’ve worked as an exhibit designer, an exhibit developer, including 13 years at the Boston Children’s Museum, before moving into the realm of administration and public program leadership at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) where my team has produced dozens of major and small exhibitions. We do stuff in the big state history museum in St. Paul, but also many exhibits for our historic site network which has a number of visitor centers and living history programs.

    I’m an ardent proponent of visitor-centered, experiential interpretive approaches that value visitors as active learners. I like the kind of high context storytelling that history museums and sites can do and think they could do more of it than they do now. Our research strongly suggests that people have a strong desire to make personal connections to the past through imaginative processes involving empathy and nostalgia. Our exhibit work at MHS has included a wide variety of styles from high immersion, interactive and media rich approaches for a general family audience, to intensive community-based collaborations, to fairly traditional art or photography shows. One of our goals these days is to strive for more variety and surprise in our programming, a more modulated overall museum experience.

    I grew up in a museum family. All vacations were busman’s holidays spent visiting living history sites, Park Service locations, museums and world’s fairs. As a family, we placed a high value on the kind of informal learning you could do in these kinds of places. By the time I was in my early teens, I already had taken ownership of the local museums in a latchkey kid kind of way, spending a lot of time in them on my own or with a few friends. I continue to love museums of all kinds. I see at least a couple of really interesting exhibits every year, things that inspire me, make me glad I’m still working in this field. I’ve consulted and lectured at a variety of museum and learning institutions and have published a bunch of articles and such. I have a BA in Art from Antioch College, no graduate degree.

Recent publications & presentations

  • "Immersive Media: Creating Theatrical Storytelling Experiences."   The Digital Museum: A Think Guide

     2007

  • "What The Heck Is Experience Design?."   Exhibitionist

    Fall 2005

  • "Lincolns In Latex."   Curator: The Museum Journal

    January 2006

  • "The Puzzle of Museum Educational Practice."   Curator: The Museum Journal

    April 2006

  • "Is It Interactive Yet?."   Curator: The Museum Journal

    October 2004

  • SPAM Museum

    SPAM Museum

    Review

    by Daniel Spock Published April 01 2008

    No, this isn't a museum about that irrelevant crap that shows up unbidden in your email inbox. This is the original SPAM, that innocuous, strangely flavorless canned meat product composed of pork and pork byproducts. SPAM is the flagship product...

  • Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

    Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

    Review

    by Daniel Spock Published April 01 2008

    The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. occupies a nondescript storefront in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Though it is not a museum exhibit strictly speaking, I think it provides an excellent and imaginative example of the kind of complete...

  • Terror House

    Terror House

    Review

    by Daniel Spock Published March 27 2008

    On Andrassy Street, one of Budapest’s loveliest boulevards, stands the Terror House. The exterior begins the metaphorical journey contained inside, “terror” literally casts a dark shadow on the place. Boy does it ever. For more than 50 years over...