As I reflect on 2017 through the lens of the ExhibiTricks blog, three broad categories stand out: Worldwide Workshops (and the International Museum Community), Making Museums Better(especially in terms of museum workers’ pay), and Creative Inspiration (drawing on work from outside the museum field).

Worldwide Workshops

Despite the fact that Paul Orselli Workshop (POW!) primarily develops exhibits and museums, I also do a fair number of workshops for museums (and companies that work with museums.)  In 2017, I was fortunate to travel to Germany, Tunisia, and China to give exhibit development and prototyping workshops. (You can find out more about each of these experiences by clicking the link on the country name.)  

Every time I have the opportunity to work with creative partners outside the U.S. I’m reminded of how small the world of museums really is, and the challenges in serving museum visitors that we all share.

Visiting museum colleagues outside of North America also helps me put my own museum work into perspective by learning how often museum workers outside the United States do things a bit differently — whether it is a twist on a “familiar” exhibit or a new approach to an education or outreach program.

Making Museums Better

The most popular ExhibiTricks post in 2017 (by far) was Claire Mildrum’s honest (and wrenching) account called “Why I Left The Museum Field.”  There is something wrong with the museum field when many young, talented, and well-trained professionals feel they must pursue their career goals elsewhere.

Of course, one way to address the challenges of bringing (and keeping!) new people into museum jobs, has to do with the woeful pay scales of so many positions in cultural institutions.  I offered a quick way to address some of that in this post.  Short story — don’t allow museum positions without salary ranges listed or “unpaid internships” to be advertised.  If you see this happening online or in a publication you subscribe to, email them and tell them to change!

Museums are great at jumping on to bandwagons, which may be why the post “Does Your Makerspace Really Need a 3D Printer?” got such a big response.  “You mean we don’t need to automatically buy some 3D  printers if we are creating a Makerspace in our museum?” 

Another way we can improve museums is by looking for lessons from outside the field.  I was especially taken by Trevor Noah’s memoir of growing up in South Africa during apartheid called “Born a Crime.”   I wrote a post listing 4 things I thought cultural institutions like museums could take away from some of Noah’s experiences described in his book.

Creative Inspiration

I always like to share creative inspiration(s) I come across on my blog, and 2017 was no exception.

“Where Can You Find Fake Dirt?” highlighted the Great Big Exhibit Resource List, a compendium of resources for exhibit makers and educators.

Over the years, one of my favorite questions for people I’ve interviewed on ExhibiTricks is “If money were no object, what would your “dream” exhibit project be?”  and this post shares some of the most inspiring answers to that question.

Although much of our creative design work happens inside buildings, there are often many opportunities to create unique visitor experiences outside our buildings.  This popular post shared some outdoor creative design inspiration.

One of my favorite things about collaborating on exhibition or museum projects is finding new creative partners to work with.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with the artist James Kuether on a recent children’s museum exhibition about dinosaurs and write a post about his work.  The artwork that James produced for the dinosaur exhibition made it so much better than I ever imagined it could be.  (Check out James’ book, “The Amazing World of Dinosaurs” if you’d like to see some amazing images of prehistoric worlds!)

Source: Blog Orselli