The Animated Artwork of Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Topic: Art Subtopic: General

Case Study

of an Exhibition

by Paul Orselli

Published on November 20, 2008

  • Description and goals

    Laura Vaccaro Seeger is an award-winning author/illustrator who lives on Long Island. The Long Island-based Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) had approached Laura to mount a temporary show of original artwork from her books, but wanted to create an exhibition that was more “family friendly” by including interactive opportunities related to the themes of the books.

  • Development process and challenges

    There were several key challenges to this project. First, while the majority of NCMA staff were very excited about the possibilities for including interactive exhibit components in the Seeger show, the Museum had never produced any shows with interactive elements before.

    Secondly, moving through many possible ideas for appropriate interactive elements, coupled with a very small budget, required lots of communication with both Laura, as the artist, and the NCMA Curatorial and Education staff. Fortunately, the themes found in Laura’s books (such as light and color, metamorphosis, negative space, opposites, etc.) lent themselves nicely to simple and robust interactive exhibits.

    Another of my challenges as a designer was to highlight how Laura’s background as an animator (before she had become an author) was integral to the design of her books, which almost all highlight visual changes and transformations reminiscent of animation. We accomplished this by including simple animation-based interactives or graphic design elements (such as praxinoscopes or lenticulars) in each of the four exhibition galleries.

  • Lessons learned, mistakes we made (and what we did about them)

    In some ways, limits on time and money forced us to move more quickly than with most museum projects. (When your client gives you lemons, make lemonade!) However, the quick timeline and small budget forced us to develop creative solutions that might not have happened in a more leisurely situation.

    Because of the rapid development timeline, communication between all the stakeholders became even more important than usual. Fortunately there were very few times that miscommunication became a problem.

    Every member of the exhibit development team needed to work together and contribute their expertise to complete the exhibition on-time and on-budget. (For example, Laura contributed graphic design and label writing assistance, while NCMA staff pitched in on last-minute carpentry and installation tasks.)

    In the end, I feel very gratified that because of the strong positive reaction to the finished exhibition, by both the public and museum staff, that the original closing date of the exhibition was extended.

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