What do Doritos and museums have in common? Doritos sponsored a contest for Super Bowl commercials--the winner (you can see it here) was created for a total cost of about $12. What does it have to do with museums? It reinforces the theory--first articulated in this succinct way to me by my colleague Anne Ackerson: Ideas don't cost money! Exhibits can be creative, fun, and meaningful without costing a pile of money. I just groan every time I see an exhibit of wedding dresses, or the chronological history of the community, or views of a region, or the same old topic over and over again. I want to see local history exhibits that go beyond that; that really use museum objects and community knowledge to share--not just the big old line-up of that salt cellar collection! This isn't to say that money doesn't help in the exhibition process--it's great to be able to work with scholars, designers, fabricators and evaluators, but if there's not a big idea, it's not going to work as an exhibit.
In reading an interview with Dale Backus, the creator of the commercial (and only 21) several other important ideas emerge: the commercial was the creative work of a group, brainstorming ideas together. The group wasn't afraid to adapt and change their idea once production began--both because better ideas emerged and because some parts of the plan didn't work. And of course, nothing like a deadline to encourage creativity. Their final commercial was completed just before the submission deadline.