Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stuck for Ideas?

Where do exhibit ideas come from? Sometimes they're collection driven, sometimes the project is driven by a donor's ideas, sometimes it's driven by a desire to spotlight a previously ignored part of community history. I believe that almost anything can be made into an interesting exhibit, given enough thoughtful discussion in the planning process. Here's two recent exhibits--one online and one not, that demonstrate that idea.

First, the real world exhibit--the National Building Museum has just opened an exhibit called "House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage." The exhibit's big idea is right up front on the website description:
Cars. We imagine them always in motion, but they spend most of their time at rest.

We have all spent time in parking garages, but we rarely stop to think about what they have meant for our cities and ourselves.
I'm interested that the exhibit concludes with the question, "What does the future hold for parking?" although I might be more interested in the question, "what would the US look like without the need for parking?" And as an aside, I love that the parking garage in Rockville Town Center uses historic photos to "decorate" their parking spaces. I've put this on my visit list the next time I'm in Washington so I can see what an exhibit about parking looks like (somehow I envision punching a button to get a ticket to enter).

The second exhibit is a collaborative, online one. The Collections Australia Network is building a national collections database (and by the way, how about the US doing the same thing?) by developing thematic stories. Their first project, Not So Innocent Objects is below. The video was made using free software: IMovie and Google Earth and the result is an surprisingly compelling tour through crime and punishment as shown through the objects and images in Australian museums.

A compelling look at crime, but also a compelling case for sharing collections online. I came across this on Museum 3.0, a great place to learn what colleagues worldwide are thinking and working on.

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