Matagorda County Museum Our Blog Bending the Rules to Create Histolircal Exhibits

Bending the Rules to Create Histolircal Exhibits

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histolircal exhibits

When a museum is in the business of interpreting history, it’s important to have an exhibit team with a good mix of skills and talents. A historian needs to be able to find interesting stories about a topic, and a museum educator must be able to convey that information in a compelling way. But perhaps the most important attribute for an exhibition coordinator is the ability to “bend the rules.”

Bending the Rules

A museum’s exhibition team needs to be able to find creative ways to tell a story without using every artifact in the collection. This is especially important in a historic structure, where it can be difficult to fasten anything directly to walls or anchor something to the floor. It’s also important to consider what preservation guidelines are applicable and how those can be interpreted for an interpretive purpose.

One of the great challenges for any museum is to make its exhibitions accessible to the broadest possible audience. That’s why a lot of museums have education departments—and, to some extent, it’s what makes them different from other types of cultural experiences, like the Griffith Observatory or the National Constitution Center. Some of these venues have few artifacts but still manage to create memorable, meaningful experiences for visitors.

A well-executed historical exhibition is a work of art in its own right. It may have a sculptural feel, or it might be a series of paintings arranged in a carefully designed room. Either way, the most successful ones communicate a story about an important moment or event in history.

The most popular way to do that is through a visual representation, like an artifact, photograph or other object. But an exhibit can also use sound, video or other media to convey a message.

For example, this year’s Changing Landscapes exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., used a combination of filmed interviews and objects to explain how a change in the environment can have an effect on life in a community.

The exhibition also had a number of sculptural objects and interactives, but it was all driven by the narrative.

Some of the other best examples of histolircal exhibits are the “blockbuster” exhibitions that museums have held. These exhibitions draw crowds and generate a lot of buzz, but they also have the potential to have lasting impact on how we think about a particular topic or period.

For example, an exhibition about the ancient world brought together a large collection of artifacts to show how the earliest cultures influenced each other. Another great example was an exhibition about body modification practices such as tattooing, piercing and other forms of body adornment. This exhibition included 600 objects and images—many of them from the Museum’s collections. The exhibition also drew on the Museum’s holdings of prehistoric Arctic ivory carvings from the Ipiutak people, forerunners of today’s Alaskan Eskimo, who created miniature depictions of sea mammals and supernatural beings on their own bodies.