Exhibition Design field trip to Washington, DC

Exhibition Design field trip to Washington, DC

Academic Year:
2016 - 2017 (June 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017)
Funding Requested:
$500.00
Project Dates:
-
Applicant(s):
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
ARTDES 400.003, Exhibition Design, is a new, collaborative, 2D+3D interdisciplinary design studio course. Co-taught by Katie Rubin and Hannah Smotrich and partnering with Maria Cotera, students will create a flexible, traveling exhibit on the work and life experiences of Chicana activist and photographer Nancy de los Santos. The exhibit will be shown first at the Reuther Library at Wayne State.

As a key component of the students’ research phase for the project, we will bring them to Washington, DC in mid-September. There, instead of hearing lectures or reading books, students will have the opportunity to be exposed first-hand to a broad range of approaches to exhibition design in a short period of time (and geographic space). Since both instructors have prior design experience and contacts in DC, students will also have the chance to meet and talk with exhibition designers at the Smithsonian and design firms, adding “behind-the-scenes” insight.

Before, during and after these experiences, students will be learning how to observe, document and share what they gather from site visits, analysis, conversations and reflection. This material and the inquiry it engenders will form the foundation for all that follows in this studio. Many of our students have not had the opportunity to mine the riches of the Smithsonian museums or had the chance to meet designers in those contexts.
Number of Graduate Students Affected Annually:
1 graduate student
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
12 undergraduate students
Budget Administrator:
Mahendra Kumar <mkumar@umich.edu>
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:
Our students are working collaboratively to design an exhibition. The goal of the field trip was to provide opportunities to speak with and learn from a number of different people who are involved professionally in exhibition design, as well as see a broad range of exhibitions. The conversations and museum visits exponentially enlarged their understanding of what exhibition design means, how it happens and what is possible in the context of their own work in this course and beyond.
Project Achievements:
There were four main activities in the trip: 1) a conversation with Nigel Briggs, a senior designer at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH), 2) a “behind-the-scenes” tour of NMAH with Pedro Colon, Director of building facilities, 3) a conversation with designers and tour of Gallagher and Associates, one of the country’s top exhibition design firms and 4) an assignment that required each student to visit, analyze and present findings to the class on an interesting exhibit in an assigned museum. The trip was immensely productive, inspiring and energizing for all of us! A few excerpts from student reflections will give you a sense : “(The trip) immersed me in non-stop, creative and dynamic exhibits of everything from ancient human remains to cell phone bombs. By being in a place where you could walk into any building and see an amazing exhibit, I got to see more exhibit design in two days than I probably have in my entire life.” “It is invaluable to hear firsthand the process and choices....Nigel gave us direct insight into the real-world role of an exhibit designer....it was great to see how passionate the directors of the museum were about their work.” “We were able to see multiple layers of the museum from ideation, to fabrication, to the final exhibit. The hands-on, exploratory experience of learning in this way is priceless, we could not have gained nearly as much knowledge and understanding from this class without it.” “It helped me realize that there are many creative careers out there that I didn’t know existed.” “....spending so much time with each other significantly improved our cooperation as a group, brought us closer, and I found myself noticing various elements of what our (collaboration) readings considered to be positive team building.”
Continuation:
The DC trip was part of a research phase for a collaborative exhibition project. Our students work continues through this semester with design development, prototyping and early implementation. Full fabrication and installation of the exhibit will take place early next semester as well as other extensions of the work to promote and document the show.
Dissemination:
We will be distributing a report on the field trip to Stamps colleagues and (hopefully) sharing the larger trajectory of the exhibition project through an article arranged by our Communications team.

Source URL: https://crlt.umich.edu/node/92775