Recent News

News about POW!

 

The Children’s Museum in West Hartford

A new exhibit at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford, which caters to preschool and elementary school aged children, has created an interactive exhibit ‘Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds,’ premiered on Feb. 18, 2017. The dinosaur exhibit that opened to the public isn’t filled with reconstructed dinosaur skeletons to be seen and not touched.“The scenes are reflective, to the best of our knowledge, of what Connecticut, even West Hartford, might have been like millions of years ago,” said Paul Orselli, who designed the exhibit for The Children’s Museum.

 

Busy 2016 Conference Season!

Paul Orselli, principal of POW! is delighted to be an invited speaker at the 2016 conferences of the Association of Children's Museums and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.  Paul will also be a discussant for the symposium celebrating  the 25th anniversary of the MFA program in Museum Exhibition Planning + Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

 

DoSeum opens in San Antonio

One of the largest new Children’s Museum projects in the United States, DoSeum, has opened to great acclaim in San Antonio, Texas. POW! was happy to provide consulting, training, and staff development expertise to the project.
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Muzeiko museum project opens in Sofia Bulgaria!

After many enjoyable years of being part of the primary project team for Muzeiko, POW! is delighted to announce that Bulgaria’s first Children’s Museum opened to the public on October 1st, 2015.  Here is a Google Maps walkthrough of the entire Muzeiko building and exhibits:
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More Museum News and Views

Check out more of what’s going on in the museum biz, as well as exhibit tips and tricks of the trade on the ExhibiTricks blog:
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ExhibiTricks blog

  • Is Your Museum Guilty of Weaselly Pay Practices? Answer These 6 Questions to Find Out!


    I attended the excellent NYCMER (New York City Museum Educator's Roundtable) Conference yesterday.  Even though I enjoyed myself and learned a lot, discussions about museum pay and the relationship between museums and their workers, interns, and freelancers kept coming up that really bugged me.

    It is shameful how many museums continue to underpay their employees, rationalize free internships, and skirt labor laws with their weaselly compensation practices.

    So, based on my 2017 NYCMER Conference experience, I offer these six questions below -- for museum managers and administrators, as well as employees (or potential employees) to make sure YOUR museum sets a positive example for the field:


    • Are your internships paid or unpaid?  (Every museum internship should be paid. Period. You can rationalize it any way you want, but if you are offering unpaid internships for the "experience" you are ripping people off, AND contributing to the lack of diversity in the museum field.)

    • Do all your job listings list salary ranges? (If not, what are you ashamed of?)

    • Is there pay parity between departments? (Do you really want to make the argument that development staff should be paid much more than exhibits or education staff?)

    • Can your full-time staff actually support themselves on the salary you pay them? (Or do they need second jobs?)

    • Do you delay (or "slow pay") contractors or freelancers? (Your institution expects work to be done in a timely way, so why shouldn't contractors have the same expectation about their pay?)

    • Are you choosing employees because of their spouse's benefits, or deliberately holding down scheduled hours to avoid paying benefits?  (Not only are you skirting unfair labor practices if you are doing this, but you are a weasel if you are doing this!)


    The museum industry prides itself in supporting high intellectual and social goals, so shouldn't it support basic rights around compensation for its workers as well?  Which of the areas in the questions above can YOUR museum improve on?


    Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

    P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)
  • 3 Museum Projects To Support



    After my recent cross-country, back-to-back, museum conference trips, I thought I would highlight three museum projects that can benefit from your support: Exhibition Journal, ExhibitFiles, and the Museum People's Tattoos blog.


    Exhibition Journal

    NAME (The National Association for Museum Exhibition) has recently renamed and redesigned its journal, now called Exhibition.

    The latest issue is entitled "Designing Emotion" and contains some fascinating articles that detail unique approaches toward exhibition development practice. NAME makes available two articles from the current issue of Exhibition online, as well as complete digital access to past issues via the Exhibition Journal's online archive. Check out the current free articles by clicking these links: "Designing for Outrage" and "Core Emotion and Engagement in Informal Science Learning"

    Of course, the very best way to access Exhibition is by becoming a subscriber.  You can find out how to become a subscriber by clicking this link (and you do not need to be an AAM member to become an Exhibition subsciber.)

    Last, but not least, if you've recently seen an exhibition that you'd like to share with colleagues via my "Exhibits Newsline" column, just send me an email for details, so we can get your contributions into a future issue of Exhibition!


    ExhibitFiles


    Recently, one of my Twitter followers sent me a message lamenting the fact that the ExhibitFiles site seems to be languishing a bit.



    What is ExhibitFiles you ask?  ExhibitFiles is a website (originally funded by the National Science Foundation) for museum professionals (and aspiring museum professionals) from around the world to post Reviews of exhibitions they've seen, or to post Case Studies of exhibition projects they have been involved with.  (There's even a category called "Bits" that lets you quickly post bite-sized observations about a particular exhibit element or feature you may have seen.)

    ExhibitFiles is a great resource, but it needs active participation to grow. And the more ExhibitFiles grows, the more valuable it becomes to the entire museum field. So I'm asking every ExhibiTricks reader to choose a noteworthy exhibition you see this summer, and add an ExhibitFiles entry this summer. C'mon! Think of it as your "summer resolution"  (it's easier to keep than a New Year's resolution!)

    So what are you waiting for?  Click on over to the ExhibitFiles website now!



    Museum People's Tattoos


    As if running the ExhibiTricks blog wasn't filling a very specialized niche, I also co-run a blog in an even more rarefied niche, called "Museum People's Tattoos."

    It really is a funny small museum world.  When I saw my friend Beth Redmond-Jones' awesome Manta Ray tattoo on Facebook, I jokingly suggested that we start a blog called "Museum People's Tattoos."

    As the blog intro states: "Many museum folks have a love for tattoos—their cultural significance, their artistic quality, their documentation of the natural world, and some, just for their own personal meaning. For years, we have talked about tattoos, the ones we want, the design, the stories behind them, and the artists who create them ... "

    I really love reading about the tattoos and the stories behind them on the blog.  And isn't that what museums are about --- stories and stuff?

    So if you'd like to contribute your own tattoo images and stories to the Museum People's Tattoos blog, feel free to send me an email. (You need to be a person who works with or in museums, but your tattoo does not need to necessarily be museum-related.)  C'mon and help Beth and I out! A museum people's tattoos blog doesn't run itself!



    BONUS CONTEST!

    If you've read this far, you are eligible to win one of two physical copies of the latest Exhibition journal on "Designing Emotion." All you need to do is subscribe to the ExhibiTricks blog by clicking on the link at the top right side of the blog page by May 30th.  (If you are already a subscriber, just send me an email with the subject "Journal Contest" by May 30th for your chance.) At the end of the month, I'll randomly choose one new subscriber and one email entrant to each receive a copy of the latest Exhibition journal. Good luck!



    Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

    P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)
  • Cross-Country Conferencing!



    I'm excited to be attending (and presenting at!) two of the largest museum conferences in the U.S. at the beginning of May.

    This year the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) conferences are scheduled to happen nearly back-to-back with ACM's InterActivity Conference up first in Pasadena, and the AAM's Annual Meeting & Museum Expo following right after that in St. Louis.

    InterActivity in promises to be a fun and action-packed meeting with Kidspace Children's Museum being the host venue.  In addition to all the other exciting sessions, I'm especially looking forward to sharing co-emcee duties with Margaret Middleton for the "Sound Bites" evening event on Wednesday, May 3rd from 7:30 to 9:00 PM in Ballroom A.

    If you aren't able to attend InterActivity in person this year, keep track of the hashtag #IA17 on Social Media, and check out my own Twitter (@museum_exhibits) and Facebook feeds as I will be providing live updates and pictures throughout the InterActivity conference.


    Then on to St. Louis, the home to one of my very favorite museums, The City Museum!

    The AAM Conference is loaded with great events, but I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to come to two events that I am presenting at.  The first is Design Trends: Phygital to Pokemon 
    on Tuesday, May 9th, from 10:30-11:45 AM at 226 America's Center. 

    I'll be joining my fellow speakers to present five different perspectives on key trends that are challenging and changing the way we design museum exhibitions. I'll be covering phygital museum experiences (physical/digital mashups) for my part of the session.


    The second session I'm involved in during the AAM Conference is entitled How to Suspend Disbelief: Lessons Learned through Pop-Ups.  The session happens on Wednesday, May 10 from 11:15 AM -12:30 PM at 130 America's Center.  

    For my part, I'll be talking about how I used pop-up museum techniques during my recent trip to Tunisia, and the lessons I took away from that experience.

    If you can't attend the AAM Conference this time around, follow the ubiquitous #AAM2017 hashtag or my Twitter (@museum_exhibits) or Facebook feeds for live updates.

    I look forward to seeing folks (especially ExhibiTricks readers!) on the conference circuit this spring!


    Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

    P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)
  • Which Stupid System Haven't You Changed Yet?



    Not every system is a good system.  We set up procedures to more easily deal with recurring maintenance problems or customer service challenges or billing situations so that we can address things in fair and efficient ways, and then move on without another thought.

    And then something like the horrible situation on United Airlines happens where, instead of employees thinking more carefully about a procedure or policy that has gone awry, they just blindly follow along until a paying customer gets dragged off an airplane, bloody and battered.

    I was thinking about this just the other day when I dropped off an envelope at a local FedEx location on Long Island where I live. Inside was a visa application and my son's passport, so I was a little concerned, but the visa service company I was working with had provided a FedEx label for me to print out that was addressed to their offices in New York City.

    Just a quick geography check here --- the FedEx store I dropped the envelope off at is located in Lynbrook, NY about an hour away by car or train from mid-town Manhattan (as you can see, on the map below.)


    So you would think that a FedEx truck would pick up the envelope on Long Island, drop it off at a depot somewhere in Manhattan, and it would be delivered the next day, right?

    Well, you might think that, but FedEx has a system that says when a package is marked "Express" it needs to first go to a regional FedEx location before it gets delivered. So instead of merely being driven from Long Island into Manhattan, my son's visa application merrily traveled from Long Island to Newark, New Jersey to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania to Memphis, Tennessee before being pointed toward an office building in the middle of Manhattan.  (Spoiler alert! The package did not get delivered the next day, but I did get to make the cool Google map at the top of this post showing its progress. )

    In a modern world filled with algorithms, you would think something or someone in the FedEx system would have flagged this waste of time (and airplane fuel!)

    While it's easy to shake our heads at the goof-ups of big companies like FedEx or United, what outdated or downright crazy systems are lurking inside our own smaller businesses?  And how can we get rid of (or change) those systems before we upset another customer, stakeholder, or loyal employee?


    Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

    P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)
  • Hunting for Museum Easter Eggs




    In honor of the season, here's an encore post about museum "Easter Eggs."  Enjoy!

    Museum designers often add "Easter Eggs" to their work.  But not the brightly dyed or chocolate-y varieties --- these are more akin to the hidden "Easter Eggs" that you may stumble across (or deliberately search out) inside video games, crossword puzzles, or DVDs.

    For visitors, it's fun to feel like you've found a little "secret" inside a museum building or exhibition, and for designers it's a little "trick" to reward visitors for carefully observing and examining things inside the museum.

    "Exhibits as advent calendars" as Dan Spock has observed (to mix religious holiday metaphors a bit!)  So here are a few of my favorite museum easter eggs:

    • The Hidden Cat: Starting with the picture at the top of this posting is the "cat" hidden in the atrium of the Science Discovery Museum in Acton, MA.  It's fun to point out to visitors, and it really reflects the playful nature of the building and exhibits inside.


    • Secret Elves at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science: Artist Kent R. Pendleton worked on many of the Museum's dioramas, but supposedly he wasn't allowed to sign his name to his work.  Instead, Pendleton included little "elfin" figures hidden throughout many of the displays.  There's a great blog posting (with video) about Pendleton's retro easter eggs!






    • The Magic House Mouse:  The "Magic House" Children's Museum outside St. Louis has some wonderful exhibits, but one of my favorite "hidden gems" is the tiny decorated mouse hole near the baseboards in one of the galleries.  If you were just whizzing around you might not ever see it, but if you're willing to get down on your hands and knees you might see (as in the photo below) a "presidential" mouse:





    • The "Hidden Tunnel" at Casa Loma:  Casa Loma is a gigantic historic house outside Toronto that is filled with enough crazy details to keep even little kids interested during the self-guided tours.  One  of the things I remember from a family visit (nearly 40 years ago!) was the cool secret tunnel, nearly 100 feet long, that was hidden behind a pivoting wall section (just like in all those scary movies --- but this was real!)  that led to the Casa's underground wine cellar:




    Of course some museums, like The City Museum, also in St. Louis, or the Museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A., are practically interlocking collections of "easter eggs" or in-jokes, but that's certainly one aspect that makes them so popular.

    What are some of your most memorable "Museum Easter Eggs"?  Let us know in the "Comments Section" below!

    Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

    P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)