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.
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.