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)

shopPOPdisplays: www.shopPOPdisplays.com
Speciality acrylic boxes (including 5-sided boxes) and POP display materials.
1-888-342-2513

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

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  • Open Source Play -- Impressions of the 2018 InterActivity Conference



    InterActivity, the annual meeting of Children's Museum professionals from around the world, was held recently in Raleigh NC.  The Association of Children's Museums (ACM) did a great job with the local host, Marbles Kids Museum, of bringing forward the conference theme of "Open Source Play."  I especially liked this theme because it reinforced the notion of "sharing" so common in the museum industry.

    Here are some of my impressions of this year's InterActivity Conference:

    Tuesday, the traditional "Pre-Conference" day,  started out strong with a great Study Tour of the outdoor areas of the Museum of Life + Science in Durham.  We spent most of our time in the multi-acre natural playscape called "Hideaway Woods." 

    Treehouses and Bridges in "Hideaway Woods"

    Staff member Tim Darr shared insights about the construction and operation of the treehouses, suspended walkways, and other completely charming outdoor exhibits. The outdoor areas limited content and instead gave people an opportunity to carefully observe and experience Nature with their bodies and their senses. Well worth a visit if you find yourself in Durham!

    Early Childhood area. Note "little" and "big" entrances.

    Tuesday evening the Inaugural ACM Awards Dinner honored Jeri Robinson of the Boston Children's Museum, a true museum shero and pioneer as the 2018 Champion of the Field awardee.  Jeri reflected on her 45 (!) year career in Boston, and reminded all the InterActivity attendees of the Power of Play as well as challenging every museum to “get outside of its own doors and get to know its community.”

    Jeri Robinson (center) pictured with colleagues from Boston Children's Museum
    Wednesday morning started with a keynote conversation from Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, a leading open source technology company located in Raleigh. Mr. Whitehurst shared important examples drawn from his tenure at Red Hat and his book, "The Open Organization" that emphasized that "real collaboration comes from communities that share.”

    Wednesday morning sessions, "Getting the Building You Need, Want, and Can Afford" and "DIY Exhibit Design for Tight Budgets" both focused on the importance of sharing information with, and finding important resources in, local communities. One of the ideas that stuck with me from presenter Joe Cox in the Building session was the question, "Do you really need a new building, or do you want space (in an existing building) to serve the community NOW (not in 10 years)?" I also liked three important takeaways from the DIY Exhibits session: 1) Do your own concept drawings
    2) PROTOTYPE! 3) Loop the Action.

    Wednesday concluded with a series of "Small Talks" primarily from representatives from Raleigh-area companies. I especially liked Anjana Mohanty's talk about specialty fabric producer Spoonflower and how they allow anyone to participate in the creative process AND the creative marketplace through their open source Spoonflower Shop.

    On Thursday morning, there were three simultaneous "Birds of a Feather" sessions for Small, Medium, and Large museums to share their experiences. InterActivity attendees were welcome to attend any of the sessions based on their own interests and their own institutional demographics. I thought this was a really interesting conference format and I appreciated the range of perspectives I encountered in the "Small Museums" section I attended.

    Each presenter chose three words that represented their museum and then gave a pictorial PowerPoint presentation that illustrated how those words reflected that particular museums engagement with their local communities. I liked that one of the words that Felipe Pena from the Children's Museum of Brownsville chose was "¡Fiesta!" I also admired how Kathy Parham, of The Children's Playhouse, partnered with a local coffee company to provide free coffee and tea to parents. When asked about whether providing warm beverages might discourage adults from interacting with their kids inside the museum, Kathy replied that she was more concerned about the parents' smartphones than mugs of coffee!


    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} I rounded out my Thursday conference sessions with "Kindness: An Approach to Professional Learning" and "Shark Tank" !

    The Kindness session was led by an intrepid crew from the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. The folks in Pittsburgh are currently engaged in a museum-wide professional learning initiative to use an evidence-based learning framework to support children and families' engagement in kindness as a learning process. That's quite a mouthful, but, in short, groups of session participants were asked to consider ways that kindness could be integrated into museum experiences for visitors, as well as self-care regimens for staff. The folks from Pittsburgh shared a prototype activity where floor staff would "catch" visitors being kind and give them a "kindness sticker."



    The "Shark Tank" session was a super fun evocation of the popular television show. First two presenters as "exhibit developers" made pitches for either a mechanical or a digital component to the "Sharks" representing the museum clients.  Then session participants divided into small group teams to develop their own mechanical, digital, or "hybrid" exhibit pitches to pitch to the Sharks --- with the promise of a prize for the winning team.  In a "surprise" twist, the museum client announced that, unfortunately, that particular exhibit component was "value engineered" out of the project budget so no team could be awarded a prize!  Hats off to the presenters for their fun and thoughtful use of costumes, props, videos, and sound effects. Well done!

    The Museum Client "Sharks"
    Thursday night ended with the traditional Museum Party!  The folks from Marbles did a great job with plenty of food, drinks, dancing, adult games, and FUN!


    Friday, the final day of InterActivity 2018, brought a great morning session on "Connecting Families to Complex Content in Museums." I appreciated that the presenting institutions represented a History Museum (St. Louis), an Art Museum (Denver), and a large Museum Center (Cincinnati) featuring a Children's Museum section.  There were so many great examples of programs and actionable tips from a variety of perspectives that I may have to create a separate blog post about just this session!

    The Conference closed with the presentation of the ACM Great Friend to Kids Award ceremony. This year's award went to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.  Chief Knowledge Officer Al Race gave an inspiring (and interactive!) talk about the Center's work and its implications for Children's Museums.  The entire audience joined in a karaoke version of "Brain Buildin' " set to Tom Petty's song "Free Fallin'"!

    With such a great InterActivity 2018 conference behind us, I'm really looking forward to InterActivity 2019 in Denver.  See you there?


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  • The "Key" to a Memorable Visit?



    I recently had the opportunity to visit Gulliver's Gate, an attraction located near Time's Square in Manhattan.  As the literary name suggests, Gulliver's Gate is composed of a series of scale models of miniature cityscapes that you can walk around and look at.

    I very much enjoyed admiring the art and craft involved in creating all of the Lilliputian landscapes, like the world's largest scale airport model (shown below) with planes that taxi, takeoff, and return to their gates.




    But perhaps the thing I liked best about my tour of Gulliver's Gate was ... THE KEY!


    At the beginning of your visit you receive a hefty metal key on a lanyard you can hang around your neck.



    As you walk around the miniaturized metropolises, the key unlocks little "bonus" interactions like making a helicopter take off or activating a cable car between snowy mountains.


    There was something incredibly fun about finding the special key boxes and then activating the little "Easter Eggs" inside the displays.  It also provided a great way to get overexcited children (and adults!) to slow down and observe a little more carefully.

    The GG Keys brought back happy memories of my childhood in Detroit and "Zoo Keys."  When my family and I would visit the Detroit Zoo there were metal boxes scattered around the zoo painted to resemble large books.  Inside each "book" was a rudimentary tape player and speaker that could be activated by an elephant-shaped plastic key (called "Trunkey") like the one pictured at the top of the post.  (That's actually my Zoo Key from the 1960s!)  Each Zoo Key box played a little story about the display you were in front of --- a little bonus bit of information about the animals, such as what they ate.



    The Zoo Key experience was fun in and of itself but like the Gulliver's Gate key experience, it also caused you to pause and consider a little more carefully what was happening around you.

    I know these "keys" are a simple device, and yet I saved them, and they are souvenirs that help me remember in a positive way my experiences at both Gulliver's Gate and the Detroit Zoo of my childhood.

    What sorts of physical (or metaphorical) key experiences could you provide to create positive memories for your visitors?


    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!)
  • Asking the "Why" Questions: An Interview with Bob Beatty



    A twenty-year veteran of the nonprofit world, Bob Beatty is founder of The Lyndhurst Group, a history, museum, and nonprofit consulting firm providing community-focused engagement strategies for institutional planning, organizational assessments, and interpretive direction. Bob was kind enough to share some thoughts about his work with ExhibiTricks readers in the interview below.


    What’s your educational background?

    I like to say that I'm an accidental museum professional and my "museum" degree is from the School of Hard Knocks. That's mostly true. My bachelors is in Liberal Studies, a.k.a.: "College." This reflects the fact that I changed my major five or six times and after four years at the University of Central Florida, I didn't have enough credits in only one area to graduate. Thankfully an advisor showed me how I could cobble something together, basically four minors and no major. 

    I was getting my master's in history, also at UCF, when I started my museum career. Honestly, when I started the program, this career wasn’t even on my radar. I just thought, "I like history and I want to get a graduate degree." Several years into it, I started at the History Center in Orlando and the rest, as they say, is history.


    In 2013 I started the Ph.D. in Public History program at Middle Tennessee State University and should graduate this August. So I'll soon have some "official" academic bonafides for our field.



    What got you interested in Museums?

    There really wasn't a single moment I don't think, but a series of events. First was the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida. They had these great vignette displays with mannequins—kind of like life-sized dioramas. I remember a barber shop and the druggist—I believe it also had a cobbler and some type of general store. I was fascinated by them and still love dioramas to this day.

    Also nearby in Stuart was the House of Refuge, a historic site that was the last of many such places along the beaches in Florida (and maybe elsewhere) for shipwrecked sailors. I think I was intrigued by the story of these places, as well as the sense of adventure and danger they evoked in my imagination.


    I pretty much always gravitated toward the "tangible" in museums and used to drag my family to historic sites, battlefields, and forts. I remember being intrigued by a historical display of Civil War objects at the long-gone Six Gun Territory in Ocala, Florida, and the displays in public places: restaurants, hotels, banks, post offices, businesses, and the like. These still stir my imagination.


    Thinking back, the first time I even considered the possibility of working in a museum was when I was 12 or 13 visiting a museum at a community college in a small town in Alabama. The director probably saw a little bit of me in him and was really gracious, helpful, and friendly about the field. It stuck with me for sure. 



    Tell us a little bit about how your background informs your consulting work?

    I think there is so much unrealized potential and power in the exploration of history, no matter what you do in life nor which museum discipline you work in. It's trite to say, "You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been," but it's also true!

    Good history regularly attempts to answer the "Why" question(s): Why did something happen?; Why are things the way they are today (or were "back then")?; Why this/that/the other matters? The list is truly endless. Things don't just magically "become" they way they are today, a number of forces combined to make it so. That's what makes history so fascinating to me.


    As it pertains to consulting work, asking why helps in any number of ways as I help clients adapt to the needs of their stakeholders. Some questions are more simple: "Why do you have barriers to a room in a historic house when you only lead people through on guided tours?" or "Why do you limit photographs?" There might be very good answers, and that's important to tease out. But you and I both know that barriers can represent both physical as well as intellectual obstacles and/or that people LOVE to post photographs of places they've been on social media, which is a great marketing/PR opportunity.



    Do you think your approach to project development is different because you focus on history projects?

    In some ways yes and in some ways no. I focus on history projects because that's where I have the most experience and it's also my passion.

    But I have found that our work—yours, mine, whoever's—is very similar in a lot of ways. We are using the tools we have at our disposal (art, science, history, play, experience, you name it) in an institutional setting for the betterment of communities, stakeholders, and/or constituencies. The instruments may change, but we're all part of the same orchestra. My instrument, if you will, is history. (It's also guitar, but that's another story!) 



    What are some of your favorite online (or offline!) resources for people interested in finding out more about the latest thinking on public history?

    I served as editor of History News magazine and managing editor of the AASLH book series with Rowman & Littlefield from 2007-2018, and both have proven invaluable for staying informed.

    I'm also a pretty avid reader of blogs. John Fea's The Way of Improvement Leads Home is a must-read on a variety of topics, mostly historical. 
    Kevin Levin's Civil War Memory really keeps me informed about issues related to how communities grapple with history. I am also a huge fan of Colleen Dilenschneider's  Know Your Own Bone blog on audience research.  Though his blog mostly waxes poetic about music, I find Bob Lefsetz says a lot about audiences that I think applies to my work. In some ways, he reminds me of Carol Kammen whose "On Doing Local History" column in History News has long been an inspiration of mine. 

    Twitter has just become a great place to see the discussion going on with historians of all stripes: academic and public historians in academia, history professionals, museum professionals, public intellectuals, and even celebrities.


    Several podcasts are regularly in my queue as well: The Road to Now (which features Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers and historian Ben Sawyer), Museum People from the New England Museum Association, and Museums in Strange Places from my colleague Hannah Hethmon. This is by no means a comprehensive list. But each addresses our work either specifically or tangentially. It's up to me to make the connections to my own work.


    I also maintain contact with a lot of people from all levels of work in our field: consultants, directors, educators, curators, students, you name it. Sometimes I'll see something come across the transom and reach out to someone about a program or activity. Other times I'll schedule a call just to check in or pick someone's brain. There are so many people doing so many amazing things and collegiality is one of our best traits as museum/history professionals.



    What advice would you have for fellow museum professionals, especially those from smaller museums, in bringing aspects of community engagement into their work?

    I blogged about this a little while ago. It's a term that Kent Whitworth first shared with me: "Stewardship is the open hand, not the closed fist."

    People have to remember that we're in this together with stakeholders, constituencies, and the community. We cannot mandate from on high. The open hand means asking: “What can do that benefits you the most? How do we help you achieve your goals?” The closed fist is more like, “I’ll tell you what you need that we can provide.” (Sometimes the latter statement also adds the word “only” to the equation.)


    This is a museum professional's version of the Platinum Rule: "Treat others the way they want to be treated."



    What are some of your favorite museums or exhibitions?

    There are too many to mention and I know I'm going to leave a few out. The Strong in Rochester, New York, is probably my favorite museum. I really loved the history of California exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, particularly its Forces of Change gallery which I thought was just terrific in both engaging the public and in what they displayed. Like many of us in this business, the Tenement Museum is at the top of my list. I also have a real affinity for Civil Rights-related museums like the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the Birmingham Civil Rights Instituteand the Rosa Parks Museum. The recent redo of the LBJ Library and Museum really gave me some renewed insight into Johnson as a president—particularly as it related to Civil Rights and the fight against poverty.

    I really love the museums that made me think about the hard stuff. I visited the Museum of Tolerance last summer and it moved me tremendously. The same happened before I was even working in the field when I first visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. Visits to the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum and the National September 11 Memorial Museum impacted me greatly. I should also note the tremendous admiration I have for those who work in these museums. I don't run from the challenging discussions, but I'm not sure I could do it on a 24/7 basis like they do.


    Closer to home, I love what Joe Chambers has done with the Musicians Hall of Fame here in Nashville. It's a real hidden gem in a town with a lot of music-related tourism.


    That's a pretty robust list but only scratches the surface. I can usually find something to love in just about every museum I visit. So I guess you could say my next visit is probably my favorite.



    What do you think is the “next frontier” for museums?
    When you figure it out, please let me know!

    All kidding aside, I've been keeping my eye on a couple of things. First, as always, is community engagement. When I did my master's thesis "Legacy to the People : Community and the Orange County Regional History Center," I learned how deeply embedded the ideal of community service is in American museums and I've never stopped striving for that.


    Collections are our single biggest competitive advantage and I see us continuing to find new ways to use artifacts, objects, and other primary sources in our work. I believe our audiences respond best to this. They may not know the terms "object," "artifact," "archival collection," or even what differentiates various styles of art, but they know they like the "real" that these things represent. And experiencing them online or on television cannot replace experiencing them in person. Along those lines, I've long followed the Active Collections work of Elee Wood, Rainey Tisdale, and Trevor Jones that resulted in a book earlier this year.


    I'd also like to see us, as a field, find a way to measure our public value. I've blogged a bit about this already. AAM has recently done a good job reporting on Museums as Economic Engines and the high esteem the public holds for us. But we've yet to truly capture the intangible that we provide to our communities. I've been keeping an eye on the Happy Museum Project out of the U.K. for a few years and perhaps "happiness" is a way we can measure our value.


    And like community engagement, the issue of sustainability is not a new frontier at all but it's an important one. I see this resting on two cornerstones in the immediate term.


    The first is Diversity and Inclusion. In my book I refer to the former as a passive pursuit and the latter as the more active. We must seek to be more inclusive (and genuine in that attempt). We do this not only because it's the right thing to do but also because audience demographics are against us.


    The second is advocacy. We simply must get better advocating for our ourselves and our work. I call it "the steady drumbeat of advocacy"—advocating constantly, not only when faced with some sort of policy or funding crisis.



    Can you talk a little about your book? What were interesting common threads in the essays? What surprises popped up?
    An AASLH Guide to Making Public History was originally just going to be a compilation of articles I had published as History News editor. Kent Whitworth was program chair for the 2008 AASLH annual meeting (in Rochester, home of the Strong). He hit upon the theme of "transformation" due to the Strong's institutional transformation; it also fit well with Rochester's history. Together we pondered the possibility of transforming the AASLH meeting itself and hit upon the idea of publishing a "theme essay" History News in Spring 2008. We have kept that up since then with articles every year in the spring on the upcoming meeting theme. (As a matter of fact, the latest History News, my 48th and final as editor, has Tim Grove's article for 2018 on Truth or Consequences.) 

    The book was originally going to be me compiling these already-written essays into a book, writing a brief introduction and maybe a conclusion, and publishing them with Rowman & Littlefield. I made the "mistake" of bringing it to my dissertation committee at MTSU as my capstone project. I say "mistake" because they wanted me to put more of my own thoughts into the book. So the book went from ten chapters to, ultimately, twenty-one. I wrote ten. It was a great exercise for me and I used a ton of resources beyond just those articles. I ultimately framed the discussions history professionals had had since 2008 around those themes.


    Not surprisingly, the book includes lots of discussion on many of the issues I raised in answering your "Next Frontier" question. 
    Financial and institutional sustainability remains top-of-mind as does a need to transform how we operate/interact with our communities. Collections, the sheer volume history organizations hold, standards for care, and what to collect, also predominate.

    The other two main themes are Diversity and Inclusion (a term I capitalize intentionally) and History Relevance. Both issues extend well beyond history organizations.







    Would you also like to talk about your thesis work?
    I'm near completion of the first draft of my dissertation, “You Wanna Play in My Band, You’d Better Come to Pick”: Duane Allman and American Music. It looks at the life's work and career of one of my heroes, Duane Allman, and his founding of the Allman Brothers Band, a truly groundbreaking band.

    Those who know me know I'm kind of obsessive about the Allman Brothers. They just represent everything about music that I like. Of the music I love, they've got all of it (with the exception of punk rock—but they have that in attitude). The dissertation is my attempt to say why that band was so special. Writing it and earning the Ph.D. is this is the last of a group of goals I wrote down when my youngest daughter was born. So it's a culmination in a lot of ways.



    If money were no object, what would your “dream” museum project be?

    Oh, don't do this to me! It would be very artifact-focused. Almost dominated by artifacts. You can rarely have too many of them for me.

    The museum would be place-based. I prefer historic sites and historic buildings: purpose-built museum buildings just don't carry the same weight with me. The subject matter would be historical, but would definitely relate to the present day. I mean, why study history in the first place if it doesn't somehow relate to present circumstances? And it'd include music or music history in some way: instruments, stories, songs, movements, all of that.



    Thanks again to Bob for sharing his thoughts (and all the great links!) with ExhibiTricks readers!  


    Click over to The Lyndhurst Group website to find out more about Bob and his work.  And if you'd like to get a 30% discount on Bob's book, An AASLH Guide to Making Public History, just click on this link, and enter the Discount Code: RLFANDF30 on the Publisher's website.




    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!)
  • "Object Experiences" in the Spring 2018 Exhibition Journal




    The latest issue of NAME's (National Association for Museum Exhibition) journal, Exhibition, has hit the streets!

    This time around there is a fantastic array of articles clustered under the topical umbrella of "Object Experiences." A big thanks to all the authors who shared their expertise with the museum field, and hearty congratulations to Exhibition Editor Ellen Snyder-Grenier and Managing Editor Liza Reich Rawson for helping put together another great issue!

    In keeping with NAME's desire to share resources with the field, you can find articles from past issues of Exhibition by clicking over to the Exhibition Online section of the NAME website.

    But the easiest way to take advantage of all the information found in the best professional journal on museum exhibition topics is by becoming a subscriber! (Just click here to find out more.) That way you can get a physical copy of each beautiful, full-color Exhibition journal to save as a reference.

    And as an incentive to encourage new Exhibition subscribers, I'll send out FREE physical copies of the Spring 2018 issue of Exhibition to the two best email responses to the question "How can NAME's Exhibition journal help you in your museum work?"  If you'd like a chance to win, just email your response before April 30, 2018 to info@orselli.net



    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!)
  • Museums Involving Communities: Authentic Connections



    In Margaret Kadoyama’s vision, cultural organizations are vital members of their communities and are actively involved in community revitalization.  Margaret works collaboratively with museums and cultural organizations to create strategic community involvement and audience development plans, assess programs, and plan for sustainability. 

    Margaret was kind enough to share some thoughts here on the ExhibiTricks blog about her new book, Museums Involving Communities: Authentic Connections.



    Imagine this: You are on vacation, and you decide to check out a local museum. You have a professional and personal interest in visiting, and when you arrive, you notice that the people there – the staff and visitors – seem to be happy to be there, and there is a vitality and energy about the place. When you look around, the staff and visitors are all sorts of people – various ages, styles, races, ethnicities, groupings, and the place feels welcoming and inclusive. People are engaged with one another and with the exhibitions and programs. You think, “Wow – this is a great place to be! How did it come to be like this?”


    That scenario is a guidepost for me, and writing this book has been a way to discover how to make that happen for more museums. I have been long committed to the quiet but tenacious goal of helping people learn how museums can be vital members of their communities.  Since the late 1980s this vision has driven my work, and when I was asked to teach at John F. Kennedy University Museum Studies in 1997, I hoped that this was a way to influence many students over many years to embrace and incorporate community involvement into their daily practice. It has been a great pleasure to see hundreds of JFKU students embracing community work and join with colleagues in moving this forward. To my delight, the museum field has grown and is increasingly embracing community-focused work.

    At this time and place (the United States in 2018), colleagues in many museums and cultural organizations are articulating the importance of being inclusive. A current example is the April 2018 issue of National Geographic, in which Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg’s editor letter acknowledges National Geographic’s racist history, and notes, “Let’s examine why we continue to segregate along racial lines and how we can build inclusive communities.”

    The purpose of Museums Involving Communities: Authentic Connections is to explore how museums can become vital members of their communities, actively involved in community revitalization, and how community members can become actively involved with their museums. This exploration examines the components of museum-community relationships, with the goal of creating more accessible, inclusive, and relevant museums and cultural organizations. 


    This book provides insights and guidance into how museums can be more fully engaged with their communities.  We take you through the process, looking internally to learn about our museums and ourselves, and then externally to learn about our communities.  We’ve included key questions to help guide this process, such as:

    • What is your intention for engaging in a museum-community involvement initiative?

    • Why do you want to have stronger relationships with people and organizations in your community?

    • What do you hope will happen as you become more fully involved in your community?


    Also included are stories from the field to illustrate how organizations such as the Science Museum of Minnesota, Queens Museum, Arab American National Museum, Oakland Museum of California, and others are embracing community. The stories are not only about what the museum leadership and staff are doing, but also why they are doing it, the challenges they are facing, how they navigate through those challenges, and the short-term and longer-term impacts of their work for the museums and their communities. And, sample worksheets and charts are included as helpful tools for museum leadership and staff.

    In the book, we ask questions about communities’ impacts on museum programs, exhibitions, collections, audience and internal culture, a museum’s impact on its community, and the role of leadership in fostering community engagement. The book guides the reader to a) understand how relationships between communities and museums can be forged, b) learn and weigh strategies for involving and advocating for communities in museums, and c) learn how to develop a community involvement action plan.


    A question posed by my friend and colleague Leslie Bedford says it best:



    Why are some museums comfortable and successful at embracing community and others not? How is that culture of inclusion created and sustained?


    Museums Involving Communities hopes to help you find out.



    AND NOW --- A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE COPY OF MARGARET'S NEW BOOK!

    If you would like a chance to win a copy of Margaret's new book, Museums Involving Communities: Authentic Connections, just become an email subscriber to the ExhibiTricks blog by clicking on the link at the top right of the blog's homepage.  If you are already an ExhibiTricks subscriber you can simply send an email to info@orselli.net with the subject line "I want to win a book!" 

    In either case, all entries must be received before April 30, 2018.  The randomly-selected winner will be notified after that time.


    UPDATE: Congratulations to Blaire B. of the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery for winning the book!


    You can also order a copy of Margaret's book directly from the Routledge Publishing website.  If you enter the code FLR40, you can receive a 20% discount at checkout.  (The book is also available at Amazon and other online booksellers.)



    For those of you attending the 2018 AAM Conference in Phoenix, Margaret will be doing a book signing on Monday, May 7th from 3:00 to 4:00 PM at the Alliance Bookstore -- Booth #2448 in the Expo Hall.


    Last, but not least, you can find out more about Margaret and her work by visiting her website.





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