Teamwork makes the Dream Work.

While reading the chapters for this week I could not help but think back to a series of meetings that I was able to attend this summer during my time in New England. The meetings were at Worcester Historical Museum (WHM) for a redesign of an old exhibit that they had.  The old exhibit was quite terrible in every sense of the word. They tried to fit over 100 years of history within a room the size of HLG 501, including every piece of technological advancement made in the town. There was some serious editing that needed to be done. I was excited to see how the meetings and process behind exhibit design and collaboration would work in a professional museum.

The exhibit in question was overwhelming from head to toe.

Reading about collaboration in Creating Exhibitions was enlightening. Exhibit design teams should consist of members of multiple communities. The audience, the historians, the financial backers, the exhibit design team, members of the local community, and others should be present in order for a decision to be made that suits as many people as possible. All of these collaboration ideas sound great, but that is not what was happening at the WHM. The team that was present at the meetings I attended included historians (of the older male variety), members of a design team, and the two or three grad students that were invited (me being one of them). The historians each had their own agenda, each agenda was going to lead the exhibit right back to where it was now.

Attending these meetings with people who had been studying history longer than I had been alive gave me a new incite on what not to do in collaboration meetings. The grad students in the meeting (who were invited by different individuals within the group and not by the museum itself) were the only ones there under the age of 40. We were also the only ones there that could some what represent an audience. There was no one from the local community, there was no educator of any kind (even though they mentioned quite often that their biggest visitors were school aged children on field trips).

Pairing the readings along with what happened in this meeting allowed me to understand better why true collaboration is so important in the longevity of a exhibit or museum.

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I am a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette studying Public History.

2 thoughts on “Teamwork makes the Dream Work.”

  1. I agree with your last statement. It reminds me of some point in Creating Exhibitions where they state that collaboration is important because if you create an exhibit in a way that bothers no one on the team, it will likely turn out boring. We are not making the exhibit for ourselves, we are making it for the general public. Therefore, not everyone can be 100% satisfied with the final outcome.


  2. It seems especially strange to me that there was so much emphasis on technology but yet very few individuals under the age of 40. Not that that older people can’t learn new forms of technology, but they are not completely immersed as much in it as younger person, that could provide a fresh perspective. If everyone is trying to pursue their own agenda than maybe some of them actually want to limit diversity of views and opinions offered? This obviously goes against the idea of collaboration discussed in the readings. It sounds also sounds like there might not have been a firm mission statement or plan that outlines the role that each person plays in building the exhibit, possibly.


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