Planning an Exhibition

Box of 48 ‘Happy Families’ playing cards manufactured in London
Box of 48 ‘Happy Families’ playing cards manufactured in London.
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria collections, SH 991056

The stories and information that participants gather can be presented in a number of forms, including books, posters, websites/pages/blogs, oral presentations and exhibitions. The notes that follow give some guidance on the last of these forms of presentation – school-based or community exhibitions.

Exhibitions are an exciting way to present objects, stories, written work, art pieces, multimedia and performances. Regional libraries, galleries, historical societies and other community groups may offer suitable spaces, while some schools have even established ‘School Museums’.

Without underestimating the time that such projects can involve, it is possible to turn a group into a multi-disciplinary exhibition team to research, develop and deliver an exhibition on a theme or an area of study.

  • Discuss a theme upon which the presentation of the objects and stories can be based. Broad themes could be change, place, influences, functions, gender, time, and socio-political or environmental issues. More specific themes could be work in the home, toys, tools, journeys, our ancestors, and where our family came from.

  • Choose roles for group members to take. Some of the roles involved in developing an exhibition are: exhibition coordinator, producers, photographers, designers, preparators, curators (who may be historians and scientists), educators, public programs officers, researchers, cabinet makers, artists, film makers, multi-media developers, community members, sponsors, publicists, editors, conservators and collection managers.

    Several of these roles are explained, with suggestions for evaluation reports for each in Roles involved in developing an exhibition (PDF, 49KB).

  • Some of the stages involved in the exhibition development process are: concept development, research, design development, object selection, conservation, photography, label writing, graphics and multimedia production.

    For further information, see Museums Australia’s Information Sheets – especially Info Sheet 11: Museum Displays and Exhibitions.

  • Exhibition development utilises and develops Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in many ways. For example:
    - using a data show in the presentation of exhibition concepts and design;
    - word processing software to develop exhibition labels;
    - graphics in the development and display of design concepts;
    - multimedia in the exhibition segments;
    - an email account to communicate with exhibition team members;
    - a database for the storing and retrieval of information related to the
      collections used in the exhibition;
    - spreadsheet to track the objects and images used in the exhibition;
    - desktop publishing programs to produce exhibition flyers, invitations to
      openings, advertising material and an exhibition catalogue.

  • Give careful thought to the location of the exhibition, security of the objects exhibited and the ways in which the objects will be displayed. See Displaying Objects for examples.