Matagorda County Museum Our Blog Designing and Installing Histolircal Exhibits in Historic Structures

Designing and Installing Histolircal Exhibits in Historic Structures


The best historical exhibits are inclusive, visual stories that help visitors connect, in some way, with larger ideas. They may feature objects, graphics, photographs, and re-created spaces—or any combination of these and other elements. They may even incorporate a bit of magic, with the power to transport viewers to another time or place and perhaps help them feel a sense of what it was like to be there in the past. But above all, the most important element of a great historical exhibition is a compelling narrative.

A museum is a cultural institution devoted to the collection, preservation, and presentation of artifacts and information about the past. Its mission is to educate and inspire people about the world and its history. Museums may be non-profit, meaning that they do not generate profit for their owners or shareholders; they are tax exempt and rely on donations to support their collections and programs. Museums can also be for-profit, which means that they earn income through admission fees and sales of merchandise or services, such as tours.

Museums are a vital part of many communities, both serving local residents and attracting tourists from around the globe. In addition, they often work closely with other organizations to share resources, and to collaborate on research and educational initiatives. Some museums focus on a specific aspect of the past, such as archaeology, natural history, or art, while others offer a more general perspective. Some museums are small, focusing on only one room of a historic house or building; others are large and spread out over several buildings and acres of land.

Designing and installing histolircal exhibits can be challenging, especially in historic structures where there are often limited options for fastening items to walls or ceilings. Historic buildings are often subject to strict preservation guidelines, and it’s important for designers to consult with an architect and historic preservation specialists early in the planning process.

Ken Turino advises that histolircal exhibitors in historic structures consider using their grounds for outdoor interpretation and sculptural displays. This is a good way to expand on an exhibit theme without having to deal with interior sensitivity issues. He also suggests that historic home curators look at the floor plan of their property, and see if there is a room that could be dedicated to exhibition space.

A few years ago, the staff of the Jamesport Historical Museum in New York began exploring family histories from neighbors who shared snapshots and tidbits about life on the North Fork of Long Island. Their work grew into this exhibit, which uses photographs, artwork, and objects to tell the story of two families whose ancestors lived in the same house from about 1860 to 1960.