The students in my museum course worked last week with Kathleen Ryan, a faculty member in the Department of Interior Design at our university. Kathleen worked as a museum exhibit designer before taking a faculty position at the university. In one class last week, she showed students examples of exhibits she had designed and talked about design concerns for exhibits. In the second class, she had the students in a studio to practice an exercise in display design.
In the studio, the students were given photographs of
displays from the Conner Museum and tracing paper. Kathleen asked the students to trace one or more the
elements of the current displays as the basis for a redesigned displayed. Kathleen wanted the students to
understand how to tell a story with a few objects and minimal text. The students pondered for a few
minutes the themes for their display designs. They outlined possible ideas, considering display titles,
subheadings and the kinds of descriptive text that might be used. Then they jumped into what Kathleen
really wanted, which was simply to sketch a composition that included objects
and text blocks while considering how a visitor would interact with the
display. At the end of the
exercise, Kathleen had the students talk to each other about their display
As part of the course expectations, the students will now
begin a display design project. I’ve told them the size of the wall space or
case that the display needs to fit and given a few other basic
instructions. Over the next few
weeks, each student will design a display with a theme and objects of his/her
choice. They will sketch a design that incorporates objects and text for a
hypothetical display. In early
March, we will discuss the designs they have made.
I’ve been thinking about a display I may design. Several years ago, I wrote here about a museum I imagined that would be devoted to rivers. I envisioned this museum holding collections of rivers in Mason jars. And now I’m thinking of designing my first display for that imagined museum. I need to find some Mason jars to sketch.