Matagorda County Museum Our Blog Creating Engaging and Memorable Historical Exhibits

Creating Engaging and Memorable Historical Exhibits


A history museum is a place where people come to learn about the past through objects, photographs, paintings, and written documents. The information gathered and presented by the museum is intended to help visitors understand the causes of events, to appreciate a particular point of view or perspective, and to consider possible alternatives to a given situation. Museums may be dedicated to one specific topic or they may be general in nature. In many countries, museums are subsidized by government funds or by private contributions and are operated as nonprofit organizations. In some cases, a museum will focus on a particular ethnic or religious group in order to provide cultural context and understanding to that community.

Historical exhibits are more than just history on the wall; they should be engaging, memorable, and enlightening. To accomplish this, a museum must create exhibits that are rooted in solid research and interpretive judgment. Museums with a broad and diverse range of artifacts should also include a strong human component to their exhibitions, because history is ultimately about people.

In addition to interpreting history, an exhibit designer must be aware of the limitations of the spaces in which the exhibit is installed. Historic structures are often more restrictive than contemporary buildings when it comes to fastening objects to walls and ceilings, using colors that will blend in with the original color scheme, and providing power sources. These constraints require creative problem solving on the part of an exhibit designer in order to create a successful exhibition.

Historically, most museum experiences have involved artifacts, but the boundaries of what can be considered an exhibit are ever-changing. In recent years, there has been a rise in museums that have no artifacts at all but are still able to attract visitors with compelling stories and unforgettable experiences.

Some examples of these museums can be found at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles or at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Even the Smithsonian, with its famous collection of artifacts, has exhibited some exhibits without them. However, most museums still rely heavily on artifacts to tell their stories and to provide context for the information they present.

A good exhibit is a combination of artifacts, photographs, and other objects with written or spoken text that conveys a message or gives meaning to the items on display. Ideally, an exhibit is also a visual story that sparks the imagination and encourages the viewer to engage with a difficult concept.

A recent example of this is the exhibition The Horse, which explores the relationship between horses and humans throughout the world’s history — including their impact on war, trade, agriculture, transportation, sports, and more. The exhibit features spectacular fossils and cultural objects from the Museum’s collections, as well as images and video to bring the Horse story to life for visitors. The exhibit is on view through December 2016.