Exhibit Resource List

The Great Big Museum Exhibit Resource List

The idea for this list started with Kathy Krafft as part of a conference presentation she gave several years ago. Shortly after, I offered to host the initial collection of sources on my website. Over time, the list expanded with my input and that of the late David Taylor, and was included in the "Handbook for Small Science Centers" book. Now, the Great Big Exhibit Resource List has become a way to keep track of "trusted sources" for museum exhibit designers, developers and fabricators, and is freely shared with colleagues. The GBER List continues to expand with input from museum "makers" from around the world. If you have additions, corrections, or comments, please send them to: paul@orselli.net and help this resource grow!

LOCAL SOURCES

1. Visit your local stores, and set up accounts; you may get contractor’s rates.

Check out plumbing and electrical and hardware and lumber and paint supply stores. Sometimes places like plumbing supply stores will let you behind the counters to look in their bins. Most stores are very supportive of local non-profit organizations, and enjoy the challenges of helping you when you are doing weird things in building exhibits.

2. Find out when it is quiet to get extra suggestions—not first thing in the morning when contractors are getting the parts they need for the day.

3. Never categorize or stereotype your stores—in exhibit fabrication you may well find what you need at strange, unexpected places. So visit, and see what is in stock at auto supply places (12 volt fans for your hand-powered generator, for instance) floor covering, fabric stores, office supply places, etc.

THE BIG THREE NATIONAL SOURCES

(If you don’t have these catalogs, get them! These suppliers have local branches throughout the country. Check the phone book or the website to locate your nearest outlet. Note: Addresses and telephone numbers often change! Use websites to confirm contact information.)

McMaster-Carr: www.mcmaster.com 3500 pages of hardware, plumbing (including clear PVC pipe and fittings), electrical, materials (metal, plastics, etc. delivered the next day usually. AMAZING collection.

Grainger: www.grainger.com

MSC: www.mscdirect.com

 

ASSISTIVE DEVICES

Enabling Devices: www.enablingdevices.com
385 Warburton Avenue
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
(800) 832-8697

Flaghouse: www.flaghouse.com
601 FlagHouse Drive
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604
(800) 793-7900

Maxi-Aids: www.maxiaids.com
42 Executive Blvd.
Farmingdale, NY 11735
(800) 522-6294

Patterson Medical: www.sammonspreston.com
4 Sammons Court
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
(630) 226-1300

Special Needs Toys: www.specialneedstoys.com/usa/
4537 Gibsonia Road
Gibsonia, PA15044
(800) 467-6222

 

BOOK BINDING

Perma-Bound: www.perma-bound.com
617 E.Vandalia Road,
Jacksonville, Illinois 62650
(800) 637-6581

San Val Incorporated: www.sanval.com
895 Frisco Street
Steelville, MO 65565
(800) 325-4465

 

CHEMICALS AND LAB EQUIPMENT

Cole-Palmer: www.coleparmer.com
625 East Bunker Court
Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061
(800) 323-4340

Fisher: www.fisherscientific.com
Liberty Lane
Hampton, NH 03842
(603) 926-5911

Flinn Scientific: www.flinnsci.com
P.O. Box 219
Batavia, IL 60510
(800) 452-1261

Sargent-Welch: www.sargentwelch.com
P.O. Box 5229
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
(800) 727-4368

Sigma-Aldrich: Unusual chemicals.

 

DIGITAL AUDIO AND VIDEO PLAYBACK DEVICES

BrightSign: Digital signage solutions
12980 Saratoga Ave., Ste. D
Saratoga, CA 95070
(408) 852-9263

Eletech Electronics: www.eletech.com
16025 Kaplan Avenue
City of Industry, CA 91744
(626)333-6394

Stop & Listen: www.stoplisten.com
7515 Flint Road S.E.
Calgary, Alberta CANADA T2H 1G3
(800) 387-2365

Technovision - Custom sensors and controllers. www.technovision.com
933 Canada Ct.
City of Industry, CA 91748
(626) 839-1488

 

DIGITAL IMAGES AND PRINTING

Beyond Digital Print: www.beyonddigitalprint.com
6401 E. Rogers Circle
Boca Raton, FL
(561) 922-5250

Corbis: www.Corbis.com

Display Creatives: Pop-Up Displays and printing. www.displaycreatives.com
888-760-1612

Fotosearch Stock Photography: www.fotosearch.com
21155 Watertown Road
Waukesha, WI 53186
(262) 717-0740 (800)827-3920
(Also check out the sister site, www.gograph.com)

Getty Images: www.Gettyimages.com

MegaPrint: Large format print specialists www.megaprint.com
800-590-7850

MorgueFile: www.morguefile.com Free images for your use in your creative work.

MVP Visuals: www.mvpvisuals.com
Suppliers of high-impact visuals and custom branded displays.

The Public Domain Project: www.pond5.com free Completely free public domain images and videos

Stella Color: www.stellacolor.com Sustainable Printing Solutions

Stockphoto.com: www.istockphoto.com

Shutterstock: www.shutterstock.com

Walsworth Printing and Publishing: www.walsworth.com
Printers of custom books and periodicals.

 

EDUCATIONAL AND CLASSROOM SUPPLIERS

(Visit your local schools- they have lots of catalogs!)

Acorn Naturalists: www.acornnaturalists.com
Good source of animal footprints and casts, plus lots of other biology and botany stuff.

Childcraft: www.childcrafteducation.com
P.O. Box 3239
Lancaster, PA 17604
(800) 631-5652

Creative Health Products: www.chponline.com Weight scales, other health products.
5148 Saddle Ridge Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
(800) 742-4478

Discount School Supply www.discountschoolsupply.com

Educational Innovations: www.teachersource.com
362 Main Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
(203) 229-0730

Edmund Scientific: www.scientificsonline.com Magnets, polarizing sheet, all kinds of science stuff.

Edmund Industrial Optics: www.edmundoptics.com lenses, optical parts.

ETA/Cuisenaire: www.etacuisenaire.com Math manipulatives, posters.
500 Greenview Court
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
(800) 875-9643

Haba: www.habausa.com

Health Edco: www.healthedco.com

Lakeshore: www.lakeshorelearning.com Early childhood materials.

Skulls Unlimited: www.skullsunlimited.com All things bone related.
10313 South Sunnylane
Oklahoma City, OK 73160
(800) 659-7585 (SKULL)

Woodworks Ltd: www.craftparts.com
4521 Anderson Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76117
(817) 581-5230

 

ELECTRONICS

Adafruit Industries: www.adafruit.com
80 Nassau Street, #4C
New York, NY 10038
(646) 248-7882

Allied: www.alliedelec.com
7410 Pebble Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76118

Anatek: www.anatekcorp.com Video and TV related electronics.
P.O. Box 1200
100 Merrimack Road
Amherst, NH 03031
(603)673-4342

BG Micro: www.bgmicro.com
3024 Lincoln Ct
Garland, Texas 75041
(800) 276-2206

Digi-key: www.digikey.com
River Falls, MN 56

Happ Controls: www.happcontrols.com Pushbuttons, pinball accessories, etc.
106 Garlisch Drive
Elk Grove, IL 60007
(888) BUY-HAPP

Hosfelt Electronics: www.hosfelt.com
2700 Sunset Blvd.
Steubenville, OH 43952
(888) 264-6464

Jameco: www.jameco.com
1355 Shoreway Road
Belmont, CA 94002
(800) 831-4242

MakerSHED: www.makershed.com DIY Kits + Tools + Books + Fun from the MAKE Magazine folks

Markertek: www.markertek.com Cameras, cables, tools, audio equipment.
Great source for video production equipment and unusual stuff.
812 Kings Highway PO Box 397
Saugerties, New York 12477
(800) 522-2025

Mouser: www.mouser.com
1000 North Main Street
Mansfield, Texas 76063
(800) 346-6873

Newark: www.newark.com
4801 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640-4496
(773) 784-5100

Radio Shack: www.radioshack.com

Ramsey Electronics: www.ramseyelectronics.com
Good source of electronics kits that can be turned into exhibits.
590 Fishers Station Dr.
Victor, NY 14564
(800) 446-2295

Solid State Advanced Controls: www.ssac.com
Sometimes the only source for hard-to find electronic timers and other modules that do switching, current measuring, etc. generally for 120VAC circuits.

SparkFun Electronics: www.sparkfun.com
6175 Longbow Drive
Suite 200
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 284-0979

String Pots: www.stringpot.com
String Potentiometers = Potentiometer + Spring-Loaded Pulley.

Supercircuits: www.supercircuits.com Video and security equipment.
One Supercircuits Plaza
Liberty Hill, Texas 78642

Tapeswitch: www.tapeswitch.com
100 Schmitt Boulevard
Farmingdale, NY 11735
(631) 630-0442

 

EXHIBIT RENDERING TOOLS

SketchUp: www.sketchup.com Excellent free rendering program.

 

EXTRUSIONS

80/20 Inc: www.8020.net "The Industrial Erector Set"
1701 South 400 East
Columbia City, IN 46725
(260) 248-8030

FlexPVC: www.flexpvc.com Amazing array of PVC shapes and fittings.
1-888-PVC-FLEX

MayTec: www.maytecinc.com
901 Wesemann Drive
West Dundee, IL 60118
(847) 429-0321

MicroRAX: www.microrax.com Miniature extruded aluminum t-slot framing
Twintec, Inc.
1510 Boundary Blvd., Suite 100
Auburn, WA 98001
(800) 979-9645

Octanorm: www.octanormusa.com
701 Interstate West Parkway
Lithia Springs, GA 30122
(800) 995-2995

Parker’s Industrial Profile Systems: http://bit.ly/e8RBYm
6035 Parkland Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44124
(216) 896-3000

 

FAKE FOODS

Fake-Foods.com: www.fake-foods.com
204 North El Camino Real, #432
Encinitas, CA 92024

Hubert: www.hubert.com Display supplies.

Incredible Inedibles: www.incredibleinedibles.net

Iwasaki Images: www.iwasaki-images.com
630 Maple Ave.
Torrance, CA 90503
(800) 323-9921

Forbex: www.forbex.com Fake grass.

(Childcraft also sells inexpensive collections of fake foods.)

 

FIBERGLASS AND MOLDMAKING

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty: www.aircraft-spruce.com
Fiberglass supplies, Kevlar, aviation instruments, the entire world of aviation fasteners.
1-877-4-SPRUCE

Fiberglass Coatings: www.fgci.com (in St. Petersburg, FL) A great source for
fiberglassing supplies, casting resins, and knowledge.

3201 28th Street N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
(727) 327-8117

Fibre Glast: www.fibreglast.com
95 Mosier Pkwy Brookville, OH 45309
800-330-6368

Polytek: www.polytek.com Rubber moldmaking supplies, casting materials.

 

FLOORING

Gerbert Limited: www.gerbertltd.com Recycled flooring materials.

715 Fountain Ave.
P.O. Box 4944
Lancaster, PA 17604-4944
(800) 828-9461

Lees Carpets: www.leescarpets.com Many sustainable flooring choices. NeoFloor is especially good for children’s areas.

500 TownPark Lane
Suite #400
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(800) 523-5647

Pirelli Flooring: www.artigo.com Interesting flooring products.

 

FRAMING AND MOUNTING MATERIALS

Get Smart Products: www.pfile.com
Super cheap frames!

IKEA: www.ikea.com
It’s hard to find more attractive and inexpensive frames than those from IKEA.

Light Impressions: www.lightimpressionsdirect.com
P.O. Box 787
Brea, CA 92822
(800) 828-6216

Pictureframes.com: www.pictureframes.com
2103 Brentwood Street
High Point, NC 27263
(800) 332-8884

 

FURNITURE

ATD-AMERICAN: www.atd.com
135 Greenwood Ave.
Wyncote, PA 19095
(215) 576-1000

Community Playthings: www.communityplaythings.com
PO Box 2
Ulster Park NY 12487
(800) 777-4244

DEMCO: www.demco.com
P.O. Box 7488
Madison, WI 53707
(800) 962-4463

Gaylord Library Supplies: www.gaylord.com
Kid-sized furniture.
(800) 448-6160

Mockett: www.mockett.com
Hardware, pulls, wire grommets.

Smith System: www.smithsystem.com
PO Box 860415
Plano, Texas 75086
(800) 328-1061

Worthington Direct: www.worthingtondirect.com
6301 Gaston Ave., Suite 670
Dallas, TX 75214
(800) 599-6636

 

GEARS, CLUTCHES, SHAFTS

Atlanta Belting: www.atlbelt.com Conveyor belt-- smooth, textured.

Boston Gear: www.bostongear.com
14 Hayward Street
Quincy, MA 02171
(888) 999-9860

Emerson/Morse/Browning: www.emerson-ept.com
WM Berg: www.wmberg.com
499 Ocean Avenue
East Rockaway, NY 11518
(800)232-BERG

 

GLOW-IN-THE-DARK STUFF

ABET Laminati: www.abetlaminati.com Lumiphos laminate material.

Educational Innovations: www.teachersource.com Check out their glow-in-the-dark pigments.
362 Main Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
(203) 229-0730

Flinn Scientific: www.flinnsci.com Small sheets and paint.
P.O. Box 219
Batavia, IL 60510
(800) 452-1261

Glow Inc: www.glowinc.com

Hanovia: www.hanovia-uv.com
6 Evans Street
Fairfield, NJ 07083
(973) 651-5510

Jessup Manufacturing: www.globritesystem.com
2815 West Route 120
McHenry, IL 60051
(815) 385-6650

Shannon Luminous Materials: www.blacklite.com
304 A North Townsend
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(800) 543-4485

 

GRAVITY WELLS

Divnik International: www.SpiralWishingWells.com
321 Alexandersville Road
Miamisburg, Ohio 45342
(937) 384-0003

 

GREEN EXHIBITS MATERIALS

Build it Green: www.builditgreen.org

Environmental Home Store: www.environmentalhomestore.com
The Environmental Home Store
550 Carpenter Lane at Greene Street
Philadelphia, PA 19119
(215) 844-GREEN

Green Exhibits: www.greenexhibits.org

Center for Neighborhood Technology, Green building resources:
www.building.cnt.org

Yemm & Hart: www.yemmhart.com Recycled building materials.
1417 Madison
Marquand, MO 63655
(573) 783-5434

 

HARDWARE AND TOOLS

Ballew Saw and Tool: www.ballewsawandtool.com Sharpens saw blades, sells blades and bits.
325 S. Kimbrough
Springfield, MO 65806
(800) 288-7483

Carbide.com: www.carbide.com Router bits, etc.

Cherry Tree: www.cherrytree-online.com Wood balls, parts.
408 S Jefferson Street
Belmont, OH 43718
(800) 848-4363

Citimarine: www.citimarinestore.com Marine accessories and hardware.
3300 NW 112th Ave, #4
Doral, FL 33172
(800) 766-5256

Enco Tools: www.use-enco.com Tools, general selection & large tools.

Fastenal: www.fastenal.com Industrial and construction supplies.
2001 Theurer Blvd.
Winona, Minnesota 55987
(507) 454-5374

FastCap: www.fastcap.com Check out "speed tape".

Grizzly: www.grizzly.com Large and small tools, bits, supplies, wood samples.

Hafele: www.hafele.com
Huge assortment of hardware for furniture making.

Harbor Freight: www.harborfreight.com
Inexpensive tools ,variable quality on some brands.

JC Whitney: www.jcwhitney.com Automotive supplies.

Klingspor: www.klingspor.com
Woodworking: sandpaper in bulk (belts, drums, disks, sheets.)

Lee Valley: www.leevalley.com Woodworking tools, also cheap source for small neodymium magnets.
P.O. Box 1780
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
(800) 871-8158

Lehman’s: www.lehmans.com Old time tools, blacksmithing supplies.
One Lehman Circle
P.O. Box 321
Kidron, OH 44636
(888) 438-5346

Marv-O-Lus Manufacturing: www.marvolus.com
220 North Washtenaw Avenue
Chicago, IL 60612-2014
(888) 840-4311

Northern Tools: www.NorthernTool.com
2800 Southcross Drive West
Burnsville, Minnesota 55306
(800) 221-0516

Roberts Plywood: www.roberts-plywood.com Curved plywood, large wooden tubes.

Southco: www.southco.com Latches, cabinet hardware.

Tool Parts Direct: www.toolpartsdirect.com Parts for tools- with diagrams for identifying the part!
6620 F Street
Omaha, NE 68117
(866) 597-3850

West Marine: www.westmarine.com Marine supplies.

Woodcraft: www.woodcraft.com Tools and supplies.
(800) 535-4482

Woodworker's Supply: www.woodworker.com

 

LIGHTING AND LIGHTS

Bulbs.com: www.bulbs.com
40 Jackson Street
Worcester, MA 01608
(888) 455-2800

Bulbman: www.bulbman.com

Interlight: www.interlight.biz
7939 New Jersey Avenue
Hammond, IN 46323
(800) 743-0005

Topbulb: www.topbulb.com
5204 Indianapolis Boulevard
East Chicago, IN 46312
(866) TOP-BULB

UV SYSTEMS: www.uvsystems.com A great source for UV lighting and components.
16605 127th Avenue SE
Renton, WA 98058-5549
(425)228-9988

 

MAGNETS

Adams Magnetic: www.adamsmagnetic.com

Kling Magnetics: www.kling.com Magnetic Paint.
343 Rt. 295 - PO Box 348
Chatham, NY 12037
(518) 392-4000

Force Field: www.wondermagnet.com
2606 West Vine Dr.
Fort Collins, CO 80521
(877) 944-6247

 

METALS

McNichols: www.mcnichols.com Perforated sheet metal, steel grating.
5505 West Gray Street
Tampa, FL 33609-1007
(813) 282-3828 x 2100

Murphy-Nolan: www.murphynolan.com

OnlineMetals.com: www.onlinemetals.com Stocks and sells a variety of metals; including small orders
1138 W. Ewing Street
Seattle, WA 98119
(800) 704-2157

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Archie McPhee / Accoutrements: www.mcphee.com Wacky products!
2428 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 297-0240

Bry-Tech Distributors: www.bry-tech.com Upholstery Materials & Supplies
1143 Haines Street
Jacksonville, FL 32206
(800) 329-7283

Company Folders, Inc. www.companyfolders.com Folders and Presentation Materials
3297 Orchard Lake Rd, Suite 203
Keego Harbor, Michigan 48320
(248) 738-7600

Displays 2 Go: www.displays2go.com Small sign holders, stands, displays.
55 Broad Common Road
Bristol, RI 02809
(800) 572-2194

Engineered Etchings: www.engineeredetchings.com Etched granite and marble plaques and displays
Cookeville, Tennessee 38506
(931) 267-1542

Ecospheres: www.eco-sphere.com Self-contained ecosystem spheres.
4421 N. Romero Rd
Tucson, Arizona 85705
(800) 729-9870

Fake Earth: www.polypavement.com

Freund Cans: www.freundcontainer.com Containers of all sorts.
11535 S. Central Avenue
Alsip, IL 60803
(800)363-9822

Hobby Express: www.hobbyexpress.com

Hobby People: www.hobbypeople.net Small motors, controllers for models.

JML Direct Optics: www.jmloptical.com Parabolic mirrors.
76 Fernwood Ave.
Rochester, NY 14621
(585) 342-8900

Just Plastic Boxes: www.justplasticboxes.com Plastic boxes of all types.
2535 Bing Miller Lane
Urbana, IA 52345
800-736-0651

Library of Congress: American Environmental Photographs
www.memory.loc.gov

LED Light Stick Art: www.subliminaryartworks.com
Bill Bell
139 Davis Ave
Brookline MA 02445
(617) 277-4719
billbell@subliminaryartworks.com

M. Jacobs & Sons www.mjacobandsons.com All sorts of bottles and jars.
31700 Middlebelt Rd., Suite 165
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
(248) 737-9440

Oriental Trading Company: www.orientaltrading.com Cheap multiples. Craft and party items.

PilotVials.com www.Pilotvials.com Clear and amber glass vials, plastic jars for all your packaging needs.
2965 Valley Vista Drive
Sedona, AZ 86351
(928) 254-0533

Radiant Manufacturing www.radiantmfg.com Giant Sequins and "flutter discs" for Air Cannon exhibits.
(877) 787-8880

Rhode Island Novelty: www.rinovelty.com
19 Industrial Lane
Johnston, RI 02919
(800) 528-5599

Sand & Solutions: www.waupacasand.com
Rubber mulch. (For clean “sandboxes” and playgrounds.)
(715) 258-8566

Scent Machines: www.scentair.com

Stella Color: www.stellacolor.com Images on carpet; interesting mural wallpaper.

Strapworks: www.strapworks.com
All kinds of webbing, strapping ropes, etc.
3170 Elmira Rd.
Eugene, OR 97402
(541) 741-0658

Toysmith: www.toysmith.com

Ultrasonic Mistmakers: www.mainlandmart.com
MainlandMart.com
2535 Durfee Ave.
El Monte, CA 91732
(626) 258-2928

 

PLASTICS

AIN Plastics: www.ainplastics.com

Curbell Plastic: www.curbell.com
7 Cobham Drive
Orchard Park, NY 14127
(716) 667-3377

Outwater Plastics: www.outwater.com
Weird architectural stuff, tee molding in all sizes and shapes and colors, etc.
4 Passaic Street, Wood-Ridge, N.J. 07075
1-888-OUTWATER (688-9283)

United States Plastic: www.usplastic.com
Lots of plumbing parts, tubing.
1390 Neubrecht Rd.
Lima, Ohio 45801-3196
1-800-809-4217

 

SAFETY RESOURCES AND MATERIALS

MSDS on line: www.msdssearch.com

Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety: www.artscraftstheatersafety.org

 

SCIENCE MATERIALS SUPPLIERS

Acorn Naturalists: www.acornnaturalists.com
Good source of animal footprints and casts, plus lots of other biology and botany stuff.

American 3B Scientific: www.a3bs.com
2189 Flintstone Drive, Unit O
Tucker, GA 30084
(770) 492-9111

Arbor Scientific: www.arborsci.com
PO Box 2750
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
(800) 367-6695

Ben Meadows: www.benmeadows.com Forestry/Outdoors supplies, surveying equipment
P.O. Box 5277
Janesville WI USA 53547
(800) 241-6401

C&A Scientific: www.cnascientific.com
7241 Gabe Court
Manassas, VA 20109
(703) 330-1413

Carolina Biological: www.carolina.com Microscope slides, fruit flies and
other critters, lots more.

Copernicus Toys: www.copernicustoys.com
1012 C Druid Ave
Charlottesville VA 22902
(800) 424-3950

Kelvin Scientific: www.kelvin.com
280 Adams Blvd.
Farmingdale, NY 11735
(800) 535-8469

NASCO: www.enasco.com A site for multiple supply catalogs.

PASCO: www.pasco.com Excellent physics supplies and materials.
10101 Foothills Blvd.
Roseville, CA 95747
(800) 772-8700

Pitsco: www.pitsco.com Kits, meters, etc.
915 E. Jefferson
P.O. Box 1708
Pittsburg, KS 66762
(800) 835-0686

Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories: www.sciencekit.com

SEIDAM: www.seidam.com
Kelvin Building
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
Glasgow, SCOTLAND
G12 8QQ
+44 (0)141 330 2047

Steve Spangler Science: www.stevespanglerscience.com
4400 South Federal Blvd
Englewood, CO 80110
(800) 223-9080

Ward’s Natural Science: www.wardsci.com
PO Box 92912
Rochester, NY 14692
(800) 962-2660

 

SCROLLING IMAGE SIGNS AND LIGHTBOXES

Bowman Displays: www.bowmandisplays.com
648 Progress Avenue
Munster, IN 46321
(800) 922-9250

Dick Blick: www.dickblick.com
P.O. Box 1267
Galesburg, IL 61402
(800) 828-4548

Warwick Products Company: www.warwickproducts.com Store fixtures, displays.

 

SURPLUS SUPPLIERS

American Science and Surplus: www.sciplus.com Weird collection of small parts.
P.O. Box 1030
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 647-0011

Herbach and Rademan (H&R): www.herbach.com Cheap motors, blowers, power supplies etc.
353 Crider Avenue
Moorestown, NJ 08057
(800) 848-8001

Retail Closeout Mall: www.retailcloseoutmall.com
11632 Frankstown Road #310
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
(412)734-5849

Surplus Shed: www.surplusshed.com
1050 Maidencreek Road
Fleetwood, PA 19522
(877) 7-SURPLUS

 

THEATRICAL SUPPLIES/FABRICS

Ahh.biz: www.ahh.biz Specialized Textile Outfitters.
American Home & Habitat
Route 4, Box 86
Squires, MO 65755
(417) 683-1838

Dazian Fabrics: www.dazian.com Theatrical and Outdoor Fabrics

Fred Krieger Fabrics: www.fredkriegerfabrics.com
420 Jericho Turnpike
Jericho, NY 11753
(800) 892-8142
Pro Sound & Stage Lighting: www.pssl.com Audio, video, party lights.
11070 Valley View Street
Cypress, CA. 90630
1-800-268-5520

Rosco: www.rosco.com Specialized lighting fixtures and gels (colored mylar sheets), hardware.

Rose Brand: www.rosebrand.com Theatrical Supplies

Sam Ash: www.samash.com Musical Instruments, Sound equipment.
(800) 4-SAMASH

Seattle Fabrics: www.seattlefabrics.com Theatrical and Outdoor Fabrics
Seattle, WA. 98103
(206) 525-0670

Sew What?: www.sewwhatinc.com Custom-sewn theatrical drapes and fabrics
1978 Gladwick Street
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220
(310) 639-6000

ExhibiTricks blog

  • Expectations and Exhibitions



    Any trip to a great museum city (like Washington DC) is a "moveable feast" of sorts. 

    I was delighted to gather with my fellow members of The Museum Group recently for our winter business meeting in Washington and to go on a museum-viewing spree.

    In particular, three museum experiences really stood out: the new Museum of the Bible (MoB), the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), and a temporary show at the Renwick Gallery.

    Great Expectations (Part One)


    Entry ceiling video panels at MoB
    I have to say that I was sort of dreading my visit to the Museum of the Bible (MoB) a bit, mostly because of the political views of the Hobby Lobby family that funded the museum, but also due to a number of news stories outlining questionable practices used by MoB to obtain artifacts.  But, to be honest, I felt as a museum professional I "had" to visit one of Washington's newest and largest museums.

    And (spoiler alert!) overall I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by my visit to the Museum of the Bible.  Overall, the architecture and exhibitry were top-notch.  I didn't feel like I was being preached to at all. It was easy to see that large sums of money were spent on the museum through technology and the fit and finish of exhibit furniture.

    Even the security checkpoints were designed to be visually appealing.

    MoB Security Checkpoint at Entrance

    Almost as if deflecting concerns about the provenance and authenticity of artifacts, MoB signage and exhibitry seemed to go out of the way to highlight issues for the public.  If the authenticity of some scroll fragments were unclear, labels clearly stated that.  Similarly, a temporary show called "People of the Land" made repeated mention that all the show's artifacts were on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

    People of the Land Entry Panel

    Central exhibitions like the "History of the Bible" galleries were quite large and jam-packed with artifacts, videos, and interactive elements.

    History of the Bible interior exhibitry

    Of course, as with any newly-opened museum, the Museum of the Bible was still sorting some things out.  Certain technologies (like all the touch tables in the lobby) were not yet operational and some artifacts were not yet in place. Many of the historical videos had the worst false beards I've ever seen -- like cotton balls stuck on the actor's faces! (Maybe it's a Hobby Lobby thing ... or an artifact of HD video.) But those are small quibbles.

    Worst fake beards -- ever!

    My large quibbles about the Museum of the Bible involve the "dumbing down" of content or (in my view) underestimating the audience.  Fortunately, this only happened in a couple of spots inside a very large museum.

    One example of underestimating the audience was in the "Drive Thru History" theater, an annoyingly simplistic jaunt through biblical history (Jerusalem! Rome!) with matching vehicles --- a jeep in the Middle Eastern desert and a Ferarri(?) for zipping around outside the Roman Coliseum.

    "Drive Thru" the history of the Bible!

    But the absolute worst area in MoB was the "Children's Area."  Imagine a biblical-themed Chuck E. Cheese designed by a color-blind carnival game inventor and you will get a sense of it.  (Throw balls representing Daniel into the Lions' mouths! Push the Temple Pillars down like Samson!)

    MoB Children's Area

    It really is disappointing that the Museum of the Bible blew the opportunity of the Children's Area, especially since so many families with children were clearly visiting, and also when there are wonderful and thoughtful biblically-themed experiences and exhibits (like the Skirball Center's Noah's Ark) that could have served as better models.

    Despite my reservations, overall I found the Museum of the Bible a good museum experience --- definitely worth a visit while in DC.


    Great Expectations (Part Two)

    To be fair, my expectations for the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) were set VERY high.  Every one of my museum colleagues who had visited had great things to say, and I had read many glowing accounts in the press that made clear that NMAAHC was a "pilgrimage" site for many visitors.

    Overall (spoiler alert!) I enjoyed my NMAAHC visit very much.  In fact, I stayed engaged for an entire day inside the museum without leaving (I ate lunch inside the Cafe.)

    The Museum is conceptually and physically divided into two "chunks." The three floors below the Lobby/Entry floor focus on Slavery starting in the 1400s, then through aspects of Freedom, Segregation, Civil Rights, and on into Modern Times (ending with a display of President Obama and his family.)


    I did not take any pictures on the bottom three floors, because for me, personally, I was too absorbed in the experience.  It also felt (again, for me personally) obtrusive to other visitors' experiences to take pictures on these floors.  There was a lot of sobering material to try and absorb --- slave shackles, photos of abuse. 

    The woman at the Information Desk told me (quite accurately) that I would need at least two hours or so to move through the lower three floors.  It was clear that some visitors were easily spending twice that amount of time in what are collectively called the "History Galleries."

    After a very tasty lunch in the Sweet Home Cafe, I heard some visitors remarking that music legend Quincy Jones was giving a talk that afternoon and seats may be available.  Luckily, I got into the talk and was treated to some great stories by Mr. Jones.  (I'm hoping the video of his talk will show up online somewhere.)


    After the Quincy Jones talk (part of the NMAAHC's extensive programmatic events) I made my way to the upper galleries --- where I did take pictures!  The upper galleries revolve around topics of Community and Culture.  Although at all times you can't help but feel enveloped by David Adjaye's thoughtful architectural design as you move around the upper floors.



    Two objects especially spoke to me during my explorations of the Culture Galleries, both coincidentally called "Mothership."

    The first was a version of George Clinton's "Mothership" from his tours with Parliament Funkadelic.  I just really enjoy P-Funk's music so the object is particularly iconic for me.

    The Mothership!

    Another "Mothership" I encountered was a piece by artist Jefferson Pinder constructed from reclaimed tin panels found in Baltimore and fashioned into a space capsule.  It was breathtaking!

    Another Mothership
    Of course, given the way that the National Museum of African American History and Culture has continued to resonate with such large, diverse audiences in its first year of operation, NMAAHC may be its own "Mothership" of sorts.   Definitely on the "must see" list if you are visiting Washington, DC.


    No Expectations

    I had absolutely no expectations as I wandered into the Renwick Gallery to kill an hour or two before dinner.  Little did I realize that any absolutely fascinating temporary exhibition called "Murder is Her Hobby" was tucked inside.



    The exhibition shows the work of Frances Glessner Lee, who created a series of miniature vignettes (that she called "Nutshells") of murder scenes to help train detectives and coroners.  Who knew this could be the basis for such an engaging show?



    Most of the exhibit labels read like a mini murder mystery describing each "Nutshell."


    Visitors were intently focused and carefully observing minute details of every installation.  I can't help wondering what lessons (especially for Art Museums) could be learned from this exhibition.


    The Renwick also provided (untethered!) flashlights to allow people to focus even more carefully on particular details within each Nutshell scene.



    There was also a (now seemingly ubiquitous) "Talk Back" board in the exhibition, where people left (often very detailed) thoughts about one of the Nutshell installations>



    The exhibition about Frances Glessner Lee's work, as well as my visits to NMAAHC and the Museum of the Bible, made me reflect on the inherent power and wonder found in museum experiences --- whether we are expecting them or not.



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  • Don't Stop



    Working in the museum world can sometimes feel overwhelming. Days filled with administrative trivia, visitor complaints, and endless "to do" lists can, at times, wear even the most dedicated museum workers down.

    Don't stop.

    Find one thing today, even a little thing, that will make your museum better, and make you feel better about working there.

    It could be a Social Media post about a fun new Education program.  A tweak to an exhibit to make it move from good to great.  Ordering a new entry mat to replace that worn out old one by the front door. Sincerely complimenting a co-worker on a job well done. A phone call to reconnect with a community partner.

    All those little things add up --- for you, and your visitors.

    Don't stop.



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  • Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving



    As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. it seemed like a perfect time to re-post one of the most popular ExhibiTricks articles on a topic directly related to thankfulness. Donor recognition inside museums always provides design challenges (and opportunities!)

    I hope this post provides creative inspiration and serves as a reminder of the many things we all have to be thankful for.   Enjoy!



    Most donor recognition installations in museums are really ways to say thanks.  And who could argue with that?

    But you can thank someone with the equivalent of a cheap mass-produced card you grabbed on your way home, or with the donor recognition version of a homemade loaf of bread accompanied by a carefully chosen book inscribed to the recipient.

    Last month I asked museum folks for images of interesting and thoughtful examples of donor recognition.  I received an avalanche of images --- many more than I'll include in this post, so I've gathered all the images that I've received into a free PDF available for download from the POW! website.

    Just click on the "Free Exhibit Resources" link near the center-top of any page on the website, and you'll see an entire collection of free goodies, including the newly added link called "Donor Recognition Examples."  Once you click on the link you'll get the PDF of images. (Be patient --- it's a BIG file.)

    So what sorts of images and examples of donor recognition did I receive?  They fell into several larger categories, namely:

    • Frames and Plaques

    • Walls and Floors

    • Genre Specific

    • Mechanical/Interactive

    • Interesting Materials

    • Digital Donor Devices

    So let's take each of the six categories and show a few examples of each.


    FRAMES and PLAQUES

    I'm sure you've seen lots of bad examples of this donor recognition approach, but there is a lot to be said for the simplicity (and creative twists!) that can be employed using this technique.

    The image at the top of this post is a nice example of "helping hands" (but still essentially plaques) in this category from the Chicago Children's Museum.

    I like the use of colors and the physical arrangements in the following two examples. The first pair of images comes from the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh (with bonus colored shadows!)







    The next is a sert of back-lit elements designed by Skolnick A+D Partnership for the Children's Museum of Virginia --- The entire unit is essentially one big lightbox!





    Light is also used as a strong element in the image below from Macalester College.  The folks from Blasted Art used Rosco's Lite Pad product to create the glowing text.





    Lastly, I like this simple example from the MonDak Heritage Center.  Just frames, but it does the job nicely.






    WALLS and FLOORS

    Sometimes donor recognition wants to be BIG, in an architectural sense, so interior or exterior walls are used  --- and sometimes even floors!

    Here are two exterior wall examples that stood out.  The first from the Creative Discovery Museum





    And the second from the Oakland Museum.  They are both colorful and animate nicely what would otherwise be a big blank wall.





     Here's a nice interior wall from Discovery Gateway, in Salt Lake City



    Each of the pieces is back-laminated graphics on acrylic.  (Here's a detail.)






    Of course, even the best-laid donor recognition plans can get circumvented by operational issues!





    And lastly, here's a floor example from The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.  It's the Periodic Table with donors in each element.







    GENRE SPECIFIC

    Several people sent examples of genre specific donor recognition designs.  A popular motif is to use collection objects or images, especially in the case of Natural History Museums.

    Here is the Specimen Wall from the California Academy of Sciences.  It's an elegant  low-tech solution that features specimen reproductions encased in laminated glass. The wall was conceived by Kit Hinrichs and realized in collaboration with Kate Keating Associates, with fabrication by Martinelli Environmental Graphics and glass by Ostrom Glassworks.






    Here's a clever use of old school tabletop jukeboxes to recognize donors to radio station WXPN put together by Metcalfe Architecture & Design in Philadelphia.





    MECHANICAL / INTERACTIVE

    In the same way that interactive exhibits are fun and memorable, donor recognition can be too!

    Gears are a popular motif in this regard.  The first image (Grateful Gears) is from an installation at the Kentucky Science Center, while the second is from the Madison Children's Museum.










    INTERESTING MATERIALS

    Sometimes the design element that gets people to stop and actually read the donor names are the unusual materials that the donor recognition piece is made of. If the materials relate to the institution itself, so much the better!


    This first image comes from the San Francisco Food Bank







    The next is from the Museum Center at 5ive Points, in Cleveland Tennessee which has a strong history of copper mining.  So this intricate donor recognition piece is made from copper!






    I love this clever use of miniature doors and windows at the Kohl Children's Museum.  You can open doors and windows to reveal additional information about donors.






    The last entry from this section is the truly striking three-dimensional "Donor Tree" from the Eureka Children's Museum in the UK.





    DIGITAL DONOR DEVICES

    As with all museum installations, digital technology plays an increasing role --- even in Donor Devices.

    One unit that stood out was this digital donor recognition device at the National  Historic Trails Center that solicits donations in real-time and puts up digital "rocks" on the rock wall screen of different sizes --- depending on the size of your donation, of course!  A really neat idea that beats a dusty old donation box,  hands down.




    As I mentioned earlier, these images are really the tip of the iceberg.  So please check out the entire PDF of all the images I received by heading over to the "Free Exhibit Resources" section of my website.


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  • Unpacking My Museum Trip To China




    I just returned from Beijing, China where I was invited to present lectures and workshops around the theme of "Developing Engaging Museum Exhibitions."

    The program was coordinated by the ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies (ICOM-ITC), housed at the Palace Museum in Beijing, and is a collaboration between ICOM, ICOM China, and the Palace Museum


    The Palace Museum --- nice spot for a workshop!

    As is the custom of ICOM-ITC, about half of the program participants were museum professionals based in China, while the participants from outside China came from such countries as Iran, Zambia, Colombia, and Armenia.




    I was one of two international lecturers (and the only participant from the U.S.) My workshops focused on Prototyping, Interactive Exhibit Experiences, and Exhibit Evaluation. I was ably joined by the energetic and engaging Lucimara Letelier, an independent museum professional from Brazil.  Lucimara covered topics related to Museum Marketing, Branding, and Audience Development.

    Lucimara in action.


    Since I am writing this post just after a 24-hour burst of airplane and airport travel, I'm still processing my experiences in China (and still a little jet-lagged!) but here are some of my initial impressions:


    "Engaging" means many things in museums  
    We often think of exhibits being "engaging" through hands-on interactives or the integration of technology, but audience "engagement" begins even before visitors enter your museum. Lucimara stressed the importance of "The Five Ps" when it comes to museum marketing and engaging audiences: Price, Place, Product, People, and Promotion. 




    The term "prototyping" doesn't translate well
    It helps if everyone shares a common understanding of the terms you are using --- especially in a workshop filled with museum folks from around the world!  It became apparent in my first talk that the term "prototyping" didn't translate very well, so we re-branded prototyping as "trying things out."

    Trying out a prototype.


    Museum people share common challenges
    It was a pleasure to work with such enthusiastic and curious people during my ICOM-ITC presentations.  It was gratifying to share common challenges (and encouragement and ideas) with such a far-flung group.  A great strength of the museum business is the willingness of museum folks to share with each other.



    China is in the midst of a museum boom
    I was really struck by the tremendous level of support that the Chinese government provides to the museum sector. Not only does this support translate to museums and museum projects spread throughout the country, but over 87% of the 4246 Museums in China are admission free.

    As another example of this museum boom, I was told that in the next few years they will add over 300 new science centers in China!

    Inside the HUGE Capital Museum in Beijing


    You can do a lot in a short time ... if you focus!
    A surprising aspect of focused workshop time (and also working with outside consultants!) is that once we are removed from the seemingly constant distractions of the museum workplace, we can accomplish a surprising amount of work in a relatively short period of time.  

    In my workshops we created exhibit prototypes, developed interactive exhibit approaches, tried some visitor evaluation techniques inside one of the Palace Museum's exhibition galleries, and rounded out the week by developing a pop-up exhibition!




    Of course, my trip to China wasn't ALL work! A wonderful aspect of the ICOM-ITC workshop was the opportunity to tour the Palace Museum (known as "The Forbidden City" to many Westerners) and important cultural sites like The Great Wall as a group.  

    The workshop participants also got to socialize together by visiting different parts of Beijing together at night.  This work/play combination really created a great group dynamic and forged important professional ties.  I feel like I have a new group of international museum colleagues.

    Traveling to other countries (and museums!) helps provides perspective on our own life and work.  Being a part of ICOM-ITC was a wonderful professional and personal experience that I will never forget!  

    At The Great Wall!


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  • A Guest Post From The High Seas!



    Charissa Ruth is a freelance educator based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently working onboard the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific research vessel, as an Education and Outreach Officer. Before sailing the seas, she was working in various museums and cultural institutions teaching school, afterschool, and family programs. She'd like to try her hand at stand-up comedy sometime in the future so if you've got really good jokes you can send them her way.

    Charissa was kind enough to share this guest post from onboard the JOIDES Resolution:


    The towering structure in the middle is the derrick which stabilizes
    the pipe as we drop it down and collect core samples. 

    It’s a different world living on a moving, floating structure. On an impeccably blue and white background, you can see the crew decked in red moving here and there, constantly at work. From my office window, I can see the ocean, I can see the drilling derrick towering over the rest of the ship as guardian, and I can see the catwalk where the scientists first meet the new core.

    We are a small city at sea. We have scientists from all over the world --- Brazil, Australia, USA, China, Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Korea, and Italy. The bulk of conversation happens in English but you can hear snippets of accents and languages from all over. It reminds me of Brooklyn, of home.



    Sometimes it can feel pretty lonely or isolating out here.
    There are also picnic tables for people to sit at for
    our weekly outside BBQ (weather permitting). 

    Work is happening around the clock. We all have twelve-hour work shifts and everyone is allotted some daylight hours and some nighttime hours in which to keep progress happening. There’s a pleasant rhythm at work. Meal times happen four times a day, with cookie time or break time twice a day. People are waking up and going to bed at all hours of the day. “Good Morning” replaces “Hello” as the common greeting.

    It’s been humbling to learn the rudimentary tenets of geology from geologists. All I knew of rocks and fossils is what I remember from picking up and playing with them outside as a kid. In a way, I feel I have regressed back to an infant stage. Everything is new, I feel overwhelmed at times with the amount of new information, and I’m learning to speak a new language slowly but surely.




    Once the cores reach room temperature, we split them open to look at. 
    Here we see half of the cores laid out for observation and 
    we are looking at some black basalt. 

    One of my major responsibilities as an Education and Outreach Officer on the JOIDES Resolution is to facilitate live broadcasts to classrooms all around the world. (You can find out more information and learn how to sign up a classroom here.) Just this week, we’ve talked to students in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Later this month, we have groups from Japan, South Korea, and Germany. Learning to speak this new scientific language, I now become a translator for students young and old.




    We talk about plate tectonics, rock layers, fossils so small you need a powerful microscope to see them. We talk about what it’s like to live on a scientific research vessel with 120 souls onboard. We talk about how they, the students, can make their way into this field and maybe one day onto this ship. The message is clear - there are still places in this world where you can be an explorer and discoverer.  


    Thanks Charissa for sharing your shipboard experiences with ExhibiTricks readers, and good luck with the remainder of your voyage!

     

    The ship lit up at night while still in port in Hobart.
    Photo credit: Bill Crawford




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