The emerging voice of the exhibition designer

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley Boycher (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Patrick Lee Lucas

Abstract: Of the little writing available today authored by exhibition designers, most consists of manual-like instructions or pretty-picture compendia, though often interesting and even inspiring, not nearly enough to represent their field as a relevant, necessary profession. Turning to data drawn from exhibition designers' personal experiences as well as their words deeply imbedded within a widely read museum publication, in this thesis I mined and shared exhibition designers' voices as they relate to the exhibition development process and the broader professional museum culture. Specifically, I studied the imagery and text published from 1970 through 2009 in Museum (formerly Museum News), the American Association of Museums' journal that has covered the museum community's trends and issues for more than eighty-five years. I also interviewed a purposeful sample of five exhibition professionals with varied backgrounds and current foci, and, thirdly, I analyzed data collected from my own participant observations as an intern in the 3-D Exhibition Design Department at the Field Museum of Natural History. Critically silenced, often neutralized and sometimes ignored in the past, my research finds that exhibition designers have emerged at the crossroads rather than the margins of exhibit development. They have evolved their field and in terms of what museums and audiences expect of them, but designers continue to struggle to have their voices and roles considered "scholarly" equal to other museum professionals. This project intends to contribute, if even in a small way, to understanding the place of exhibition design in museums of the past forty years and the fluctuating present, as well as lays groundwork for future investigations.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Exhibition design, exhibition designer, museum culture
Museum exhibits $x Design.
Museum exhibits $x Planning.
Museums $x Employees.
Museum exhibits.

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