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The AccidentalKnowledge Integrator
Talk Organization•   Where I work?•   What do I do there?•   How did I end up in exhibits?•   Reality and theory•   Why I ...
Where I Work• Waterloo Region Museum (WRM)• Located in Kitchener• On Homer Watson Drive, near 401
WRM – The Village• Opened in 1957• Living history village• Checkered history…   – "Worst to first"• Interprets life in 191...
WRM – Curatorial Centre• Opened in 1995• Office space• Collections storage  – 45, 000 objects  – Previously in barns,    a...
WRM – Museum• Opened in 2010• Exhibits opened  late 2011 and 2012• Largest community  museum in Ontario• Tells the story o...
WRM – Amenities•   20, 000 sq ft of exhibits•   105 seat theatre•   3 class/meeting rooms•   Food service•   Gift shop•   ...
What do I do there?•   Curator of Exhibits…???•   Not a good description•   I am not a content expert on local history•   ...
What do I do there?•   Curator of Exhibits…???•   Not a good description•   I am not a content expert on local history•   ...
What do I do there?•   Content research      • Cost estimating•   Visual research       • RFPs•   Audience research     • ...
What do I do there?• Have now been involved in about  $100 million in projects  – 20+ exhibits of varying sizes and    bud...
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?• I always enjoyed drawing and graphic arts• I was constantly doodling all over everything
How did I end up in exhibits?• So, there I was @ 17 years old  –   Like creating things  –   Liked drawing  –   Liked maki...
How did I end up in exhibits?• A high school classmate in Germany left to go to  Carleton… …to study Industrial Design• "W...
How did I end up in exhibits?• I joined the Army Reserve while at Carleton   – Its the "family business"…• Learned a lot o...
How did I end up in exhibits?
How did I end up in exhibits?• 3 Years later, grad school• An article in Museum News  – about a Museum Exhibition Planning...
Reality meets theory• First job at the Canada Museum of Science  and Technology in Ottawa• 3 years doing "audience researc...
Reality meets theory• Planners and designers ignored or dismissed  the results• "As an employee of (protecting the innocen...
Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
Soundbridge
Heroes, Heartthrobs &Horrors
Connecticut Valley Furniture
Connecticut Valley Furniture
Connecticut Valley Furniture
History is All Around Us
History is All Around Us
Making Waves
Making Waves
BCM Expansion
KidStage
The Common
The Common
Children of Hangzhou
Children of Hangzhou
Peeps World
Peeps World
WRM – Long Term Gallery• 15, 000 sq ft• "What Makes Us  Who We Are?"
Schedule
Team Process
Concept Development
Artifacts – Case Layout
Community Involvement• Wagon cover – public involvement to sew it
Community Involvement• Wagon cover – prototypes and sewing
Installation
Installation
Installation
WRM – Temporary Gallery•   5, 000 sq ft•   Changing exhibits•   By WRM and rented•   "Unconventional    Thinking"
WRM – Coming of Age• 2, 500 sq ft• Long term  temporary• Teenage life 1920s  to today
Why I do the work
Why I do the work
Why I do the work
Why I do the work
Why I do the work
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Uw ki 2013_fin_short

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How does someone end up making a career of creating exhibits? Until recently, the paths for most people entering the museum exhibition field have been many and varied – and I’m no exception. My hope with this discussion is to shed some light on the odd impact various interests and events from childhood to today have led me on this path, and the significant impact that serendipity has played. Along the way, I’ll be making observations about museums and exhibitions based on my experiences “in the wild”. And, I hope I’ll be able to shed some light on how the museum and exhibit theory imparted in the KI program reacts when it collides with reality (!).

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  • I loved Lego when I was a kid And I still do… Not unusual among designers and architects Liked "creating" things from an early age
  • I enjoyed building military and railroad models Shared interest with my father Detailed replications of reality Recreating "fantasy" worlds
  • Always enjoyed going to museums Well, most museums anyway… Many people have strong memory of a museum visit when young Mine is the Nonsuch in Winnipeg
  • Huge fan of Tolkien's writing Certainly enjoyed the narratives of the books Much more engaged by the complete and consistent: Cosmology Geography Cultures Languages History Yes, I enjoyed gaming in a pen and paper world Along with a bunch of other misfits But like Tolkien, always drawn to the ability to create imagined worlds and chronologies more than being a "character" Mostly did it for my own enjoyment
  • Original Star Wars movies influenced me More the sketchbooks than the movies People got paid to dream all this stuff up!
  • My first design ever while at a firm Diagrammatic representation of salmon migration and the random dumb luck it takes a salmon to return to spawn OMG it actually got prettied up and built!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Tiny space, multiple functions, huge budget 2300 sq ft $ 1 million+ Entry/admissions Washrooms Listening stations Server room Hands ion interpretive exhibits Performance space Science of Sound interactives Storage for programming Also, clients are CRAZY
  • Focussed on one "simple object" Used it as a vehicle to explore multiple concepts and ideas History Manufacture Branded spinoffs Law and censorship Creators Social commentary Design language mimicked 4-color process comics
  • A foray into an essentialist exhibit
  • Pretty much everything looks the same unless you are among the initiated Then – they are rife with stylistic detail differences Also tackled construction methods Mostly can't be seen from the OUTSIDE of the pieces…!
  • How to make it more accessible? Even those who like furniture really didn't know much about what they were looking at Engaged assistance of two celebrities for several videos Played up master craftsman paternity and "dead beat dad" story Developed "Looking Closer" cards to foster active viewing of the pieces Talked about use, status, contents, anything to connect the pieces to contemporary life Told the story of a wedding commission of several pieces that were reunited in the exhibit for the first time in decades
  • Clash of ideas with Director – lots of terrible ideas for exhibit Settled on using the city of Hartford as a way to discuss how history can be found all around you, if you know how to find it Constructivism, discovery, Gardiner, Bloom theories all played a role Did do a chronology for those that needed it, but it was not the main part of the exhibit Adopted a very "non history" design language for the space
  • Two things of note I hate timelines, but this one is cool as it is a 3-D representation of one city block and how it changed over time Also, user generated content could be added to the gallery, although not permanently Wall of significant contributors to Hartford's "life" as a city "I ______________" Take your photo Add a statement from a menu You pop up in wall with "the greats" as defined by the museum
  • How do you take live stage performance art and make an exhibit out of it? Ladder out of the notion of the music and audioscape of the shows Science of Sound Enormously fun to work on Worked with sound engineers from JBL and BMG founder Had to pack down into a single 53' tractor trailer to travel Insane physical design and lighting Highly technically complex to operate
  • First project coordinating exhibits into renovation and new construction Project took 18 months, the museum only closed for the last 4 of them This was really, really hard and should not be done Coordination was an almost daily headache Architects, engineers, construction companies don't listen Weekly "exhibit beating" to keep chaos to a minimum Incredibly exciting, challenging, and fun (most of the time)
  • I got to learn how to design and build a theatre… Included mainly to demonstrate the variety of non-object based learning that can occur in a museum setting KidStage was designed to be just like going to the real theatre, right down to needing tickets (which were free) One failing We thought that this space could be used by visitors when there weren't performances Didn't work No funding for interactives, no funding to staff it Lesson – just let the theatre be a theatre
  • Another complex, multiuse space Space for educational programs Seating for families to rest and recharge Giant chess set Roll away game tables Lightbox for pattern making activity Wall sized digital media activities Everything had to be stored within the space to clear it for public gatherings and dining
  • Worth noting Floors in exhibits are often forgotten Here, it is part of the action Floor maze kids and families can follow from one side of the room to the other Chessboard Or they can make up whatever game/activity they want using the squares Text panel = idea of how sparse text: Needs to be in CM Ought to be in all exhibits
  • Story of 4 pre-teens living in Hangzhou, China Compare and contrast with North American kids Touchy subject in North America Enormously complex international team Highly thematic 5 languages – only 4 at any one time Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, English, French Spanish and French take up 30% more room than English 3-D viewers Dress-up theatre Video Full size water buffalo and plough PC based interactives Photo Kiosk Bamboo chair to assemble
  • Great wall activity Probably most favourite hands on activity I've developed It and many others were extensively prototyped using very simple and cheap materials This show also had to pack down into one 53' trailer
  • How do you take an animated TV show about pre-school science and turn it into an exhibit? Like this… Possibly first large scale pre-school science exhibit tried Funded by National Science Foundation Huge advisory group of science educators Totally open-ended, constructivist and discovery based learning Almost no didactic text aimed at children This is right over KidStage… Enormously complex design, construction, and installation task
  • Lots of full size, complex, but fully adjustable prototypes Text Simple prompts to help guide parent interaction Slightly longer panels providing background and context, as well as additional suggestions Don't know if this approach worked – I left before the final evaluation was issues
  • Transcript of "Uw ki 2013_fin_short"

    1. 1. The AccidentalKnowledge Integrator
    2. 2. Talk Organization• Where I work?• What do I do there?• How did I end up in exhibits?• Reality and theory• Why I do the work
    3. 3. Where I Work• Waterloo Region Museum (WRM)• Located in Kitchener• On Homer Watson Drive, near 401
    4. 4. WRM – The Village• Opened in 1957• Living history village• Checkered history… – "Worst to first"• Interprets life in 1914• Mostly authentic buildings• Use a mix of artifacts and reproductions inside them
    5. 5. WRM – Curatorial Centre• Opened in 1995• Office space• Collections storage – 45, 000 objects – Previously in barns, attics, and cellars…• Conservation labs• Fabrication shop and design studio added in 2009
    6. 6. WRM – Museum• Opened in 2010• Exhibits opened late 2011 and 2012• Largest community museum in Ontario• Tells the story of Waterloo Region – 12, 000 years ago to today• 70, 000 visitors
    7. 7. WRM – Amenities• 20, 000 sq ft of exhibits• 105 seat theatre• 3 class/meeting rooms• Food service• Gift shop• Wifi• Patio• Fully accessible• LEED Silver certified
    8. 8. What do I do there?• Curator of Exhibits…???• Not a good description• I am not a content expert on local history• I do not spend my time actively working with the collection
    9. 9. What do I do there?• Curator of Exhibits…???• Not a good description• I am not a content expert on local history• I do not spend my time actively working with the collection
    10. 10. What do I do there?• Content research • Cost estimating• Visual research • RFPs• Audience research • Project management• Exhibit design • Fabrication supervision• Content development • Grant writing• Interactive design • Installation supervision• Prototyping• Fabrication • Construction management• Text writing• Digital media • Hiring and firing• Video production
    11. 11. What do I do there?• Have now been involved in about $100 million in projects – 20+ exhibits of varying sizes and budgets – 2 museum construction projects
    12. 12. How did I end up in exhibits?
    13. 13. How did I end up in exhibits?
    14. 14. How did I end up in exhibits?
    15. 15. How did I end up in exhibits?
    16. 16. How did I end up in exhibits?
    17. 17. How did I end up in exhibits?
    18. 18. How did I end up in exhibits?
    19. 19. How did I end up in exhibits?
    20. 20. How did I end up in exhibits?
    21. 21. How did I end up in exhibits?
    22. 22. How did I end up in exhibits?
    23. 23. How did I end up in exhibits?• I always enjoyed drawing and graphic arts• I was constantly doodling all over everything
    24. 24. How did I end up in exhibits?• So, there I was @ 17 years old – Like creating things – Liked drawing – Liked making replicas – Had a fondness for museums• Now what?!?!?!• Serendipity intervenes
    25. 25. How did I end up in exhibits?• A high school classmate in Germany left to go to Carleton… …to study Industrial Design• "Whats ID?" – Drawing, engineering, materials, human factors – wow!• I arrived at Carletons ID program 2 years later• After 4 (well, 5) years, drawn most to – Design theory – design management – empathy for end users
    26. 26. How did I end up in exhibits?• I joined the Army Reserve while at Carleton – Its the "family business"…• Learned a lot of useful skills: – Anticipating and adapting to changing circumstances – Systematic assessment of problems before jumping into solutions – "Project" planning, coordination and management – Efficient communication, including concise mission statements – Constantly developing contingency plans – Acceptance of and comfort with ambiguity
    27. 27. How did I end up in exhibits?
    28. 28. How did I end up in exhibits?• 3 Years later, grad school• An article in Museum News – about a Museum Exhibition Planning and Design program passed my way• 8 months later I was at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia
    29. 29. Reality meets theory• First job at the Canada Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa• 3 years doing "audience research" – Watching visitors using exhibits and interactives – Prototyping hands on activities – Measuring and modeling the success of exhibits and the museum – Trying to make exhibit outputs match the theory – "Exhibit as learning machine"• Learned a lot about visiting a museum or exhibit from the visitors point of view
    30. 30. Reality meets theory• Planners and designers ignored or dismissed the results• "As an employee of (protecting the innocent) who has worked with kids, parents and educators for two decades, I thought I had a clear view of what an “ideal” visit to the Museum should look like. Now that I have a child of my own, I realize that this idealized view, while well-intentioned, was (to be honest) not-quite-realistic. "• This is incredibly common amongst museum professionals• It is simply unacceptable• We dont know or acknowledge our own theory
    31. 31. Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
    32. 32. Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
    33. 33. Soundbridge
    34. 34. Heroes, Heartthrobs &Horrors
    35. 35. Connecticut Valley Furniture
    36. 36. Connecticut Valley Furniture
    37. 37. Connecticut Valley Furniture
    38. 38. History is All Around Us
    39. 39. History is All Around Us
    40. 40. Making Waves
    41. 41. Making Waves
    42. 42. BCM Expansion
    43. 43. KidStage
    44. 44. The Common
    45. 45. The Common
    46. 46. Children of Hangzhou
    47. 47. Children of Hangzhou
    48. 48. Peeps World
    49. 49. Peeps World
    50. 50. WRM – Long Term Gallery• 15, 000 sq ft• "What Makes Us Who We Are?"
    51. 51. Schedule
    52. 52. Team Process
    53. 53. Concept Development
    54. 54. Artifacts – Case Layout
    55. 55. Community Involvement• Wagon cover – public involvement to sew it
    56. 56. Community Involvement• Wagon cover – prototypes and sewing
    57. 57. Installation
    58. 58. Installation
    59. 59. Installation
    60. 60. WRM – Temporary Gallery• 5, 000 sq ft• Changing exhibits• By WRM and rented• "Unconventional Thinking"
    61. 61. WRM – Coming of Age• 2, 500 sq ft• Long term temporary• Teenage life 1920s to today
    62. 62. Why I do the work
    63. 63. Why I do the work
    64. 64. Why I do the work
    65. 65. Why I do the work
    66. 66. Why I do the work
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