From fellow exhibit designer, David Perez. Enjoy!
From fellow exhibit designer, David Perez. Enjoy!
Studio Tectonic is currently planning and designing the Peace Museum in Sierra Leone which communicates the story of its brutal civil war. On a recent planning trip, I worked with the museum team to help develop the master plan for the museum which will open in phases – starting in late 2013. Part of the site visit was a field trip into remote places in the country to meet with the community task forces that are actively collecting objects that were used during the war. Read more »
Studio Tectonic and Plan One Architects were recently awarded the design for a new visitor center and 2,000 sq. ft. exhibit for the Teton Scenic Byways. Located in Driggs, Idaho, this center will focus on the “quiet side” of the Teton Mountain Range. It will feature the rich natural and social history of the area from Swan Valley, through Pine Creek pass and north through the Upper Snake River Valley. The exhibit also will integrate a collection of art by Thomas Moran and William Jackson.
Project completion expected in 2014.
A bit about this byway can be found at: Teton Scenic Byways
Pleased to report that Boulder History Museum’s BEER! Boulder’s History on Tap opened to the public on March 1st. The exhibit is on display until October 27th.
View this project on the Studio Tectonic website here: BEER! Boulder’s History on Tap
View a recent article and video including interview with the exhibition curator and Studio Tectonic here: Exhibit brings to life Boulder’s love affair with beer
Studio Tectonic has completed the design and implementation of five displays for USA Cycling in Colorado Springs. This quick turn-around project includes showcases each of the five competitive bicycle disciplines. Objects include bicycles ridden Olympians during their medal rides, as well as images and content showcasing the history of the disciplines.
View this project on the Studio Tectonic website here: USA Cycling Exhibit
View USA Cycling’s website here: USA Cycling Website
In collaboration with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Studio Tectonic’s work is being supported by a 2013 Project Support Fund grant through the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. This grant is for in-country planning of the national Peace Museum to serve as a living commemoration, archive, and memorial in this West African nation’s capitol, Freetown. From 1991 until 2002 the country of Sierra Leone was ravished by a violent and complex struggle leaving over 50,000 citizens dead and manyfold more dramatically affected.
The grant will permit planning and travel to and throughout Sierra Leone to work with local people, officials and project leaders to lay the foundation for the creation of the new museum within the United Nations’ Special Court building. The trial work of the Special Court will be ending in 2013, at which point the building will be transformed and belong to the people of Sierra Leone to serve as an enduring testament to the war.
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, based in New York City, is a worldwide network of historic sites, museums, and initiatives dedicated to remembering past struggles and addressing their contemporary legacies. More information can be found at its website, www.sitesofconscience.org.
More information about the Special Court can be found at its website.
Studio Tectonic will continue to update and report on the developments and progress of this important and vital work.
I had the opportunity to view the Denver Art Museum Becoming Van Gogh exhibit early this week (now sold out until the end of the exhibition on the 20th of January). The exhibition is a broadly sourced focus on the artist’s 10 year creative journey. In short, he began his serious art endeavors around 27 and continued until his death in 1890. The exhibit’s curators focused on his artistic development to the near complete lack of attention on his troubled life, ears and cause of death. I applaud that.
Van Gogh was not what you’d call a “self taught” artist, but rather an artist desperate to learn through any and all means possible. He plowed through instruction manuals, “how-to” books, community classes and hanging out where the artists hung. By the time of his death had had little following, but was respected by the artist community, in spite of his sloppy education.
DAM’s curators expressed this well, primarily through a “layered” audio tour. Two sets of numbers on the wall indicated if the audio stop was “adult” focused or “family” focused. I attended the exhibit with three kids who frankly didn’t care which level they were listening to. The adult tracks were more focused on his education and gathering of techniques. The family tracks were more focused on learning observation, both of Van Gogh himself and the viewer’s observations of the exhibit. I listened to all of them too, but agreed with the elementary-age critiques that other than tone and length, the content was appealing across the ages. Tracks were appropriately long, loaded with music and folly effects, which deepened the content, and naturally professionally recorded with skilled voice artists.
Four “interpretive” locations were spread throughout the gallery. They focused on topics such as Van Gogh’s use of perspective frames, and ways of experimenting with color. The locations were positioned mostly adjacent to paintings that expressed the concepts being explored. They most compelling was the color stop. At it, there were several balls of mixed-color yarns in a case. The audio and panels presented Van Gogh’s frugal means of experimenting with color by laying strands of different yarns together. A nearby painting of clumps of grass nearly perfectly expressed the its colors through strands of multi-pigmented paint strokes. However, the curators missed a wonderful opportunity to implement a tactile and hands-on interactive with yarn. I for one, desperately wanted to grab the yarn from the case and play with it and experience the creative process of the exhibit’s subject. Many ways could have been crafted to keep the yarn from walking away and secured to the location. Also, rather than rely entirely on the audio and panels, a small bundle of yarn directly besides the grass painting could have reinforced the connection and offered it in different learning style and made an interpretive message immediately accessible without requiring a purely cognitive connection.
The first floor hands-on painting studio (which rocked, by the way) could have taken the four interpretive stations and had them come to life in ways that the exhibit itself didn’t. I’d like to see the museum build even stronger connections between the “play spaces” and curatorial content.
Small misses in otherwise strong exhibits are easy to find when Monday-morning quarterbacking, for sure. Still, even with temporary shows we should work to keep the curatorial and design process alive during the course of the exhibitions. We make endless changes to exhibits up to the point of opening and then too often walk away “sealing” the exhibit as final rather than continuing to add, adjust, refine and refresh.
Overall, as a savvy museum-goer, I found tremendous joy and meaning in this exhibition. I hope the others who had the opportunity to see it also found it as compelling – beyond simply seeing a blockbuster in the art world.
On a recent AAM group chat site on LinkedIn, a posting presented a question about using board members instead of hired consultants. While this was mostly a discussion about making do in small museum environments, I read this with a bit of caution. I have seen board members successfully bring incredible expertise to institution. I have also seen projects stagnate, or worse, in obligating boards/volunteers to do “free” work that’s usually best for outside consultants.
I offered a voice to the conversation advocating for the benefits of using paid experts, and share the posting here. It helps articulate how a board can see consulting, and what it offers an institution that is hard to find on the inside.
The Chief Niwot ~ Legend and Legacy exhibition has won the History Colorado’s Josephine H. Miles Award. The award is given for “making a major contribution to the advancement of Colorado History”.
Here’s an article from the Daily Camera newspaper: