Assignment 4: Design an exhibit


Technology and relational design theories are radically reconfiguring the museum. How can a museum engage the typical visitor with interaction and information, and make the museum a center of knowledge-building? This assignment asks you to consider new ways to design the traditional museum experience. How are relationships between people and objects structured in the museum? How can these relationships be rethought to provide new meanings and new ways of navigating the museum, new ways of learning about objects, their history, their context, and their cultural significance.

In particular, this project will ask you:

• To think analytically about the experience of museum-going and exhibiting
• To analyse the ways a collection is presented to an audience
• To consider the different ways in which different participants (on-site or remote visitors, museum staff, curators, historians, archivists) can explore an object, and contribute to the history and analysis of an object.
• To consider how technology is changing the museum experience
• To consider how design can shape dynamic exhibitions
• To think how to engage an on-site and remote audience in a particular theme; what kinds of activities and experiences contribute to the theme?
• To use print design, exhibition design and multimedia design to create a rich, site specific exhibition proposal
• To consider how an exhibit can stimulate co-authorship and co-creation.

At top: Diorama series, from Hiroshi Sugimoto. Dioramas were an invention of exhibit designers, thinking of ways to engage visitors in the context surrounding natural history objects

Project timeline

Part (1), Due April 22
Choose one object from the 20th Century collection and research that object
More details

Part (2) Week 2, Due April 29
Sketch of the exhibition ideas, including visual, spatial, acoustic and interactive elements

Part (2) Week 3, Due May 6
Developed exhibition ideas, and draft design proposal. How will you express your ideas? Video? Slides? What visual elements do you need to produce?
Develop one direction for how the RISD Museum can update the concept of “wall text” to a specific or a general audience. What will help communicate what’s interesting about an art object in this era of omnicommunication and technology? What form should your proposal take in order to communicate your idea?

Part (3) Week 4, Due May 13
Final exhibition proposal due.
Present your proposal to the class. PDF of process book due. Actual book due on junior review.


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