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News about POW!

Museum Archipelago Podcast

Paul was interviewed for the "Museum Archipelago" podcast on the subject of "The Future of Hands-On Museum Exhibits". You can listen to the full podcast here

 

Paul Orselli publishes article in ICOM's "Voices"

Paul published an article related to his Fulbright Specialist work entitled, "5 Things I Learnt as a Fulbright Specialist in Bulgaria – Building Internal Capacity through Prototyping" in the ICOM online journal called "Voices". ICOM is the International Council of Museums. You can find Paul's article here.

 

Paul Orselli receives prestigious Fulbright Specialist award!

Paul is delighted to announce that his Fulbright Specialist award will bring him back to Bulgaria to work with the fine folks at Muzeiko in September 2019.

 

A Busy Conference Season!

POW! was a proud sponsor of the 2019 InterActivity Conference in Denver, as well as being a speaker at the New York City Museum Educator's Roundtable (NYCMER) Conference.

Coming up, POW! is also a proud sponsor of Museums & Race events at the American Alliance of Museums Conference in New Orleans and a presenter at the The European Network of Science Centres and Museums (ECSITE) Conference in Copenhagen.

 

Exhibit Workshops in China

At the beginning of November 2017, Paul Orselli will be presenting a series of exhibition design and development workshops for ICOM China at The Palace Museum in Beijing.

 

"In Harms Way" Exhibition

POW! created interactive exhibit components for the "In Harm's Way" exhibition opening in October 2017 at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, NY.

 

ASTC Conference

Paul will be speaking at the Annual Conference of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) in San Jose, California from October 21-24, 2017.
Follow this link for more information about the Conference Program.

 

The Children’s Museum in West Hartford

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

 

Busy 2016 Conference Season!

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

 

DoSeum opens in San Antonio

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

 

Muzeiko museum project opens in Sofia Bulgaria!

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

 

More Museum News and Views

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

ExhibiTricks blog

  • Giving Thanks (in Museums)




    This is the time of the year in the U.S. that we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday meant to remind us of all the people and things in our lives that we have to be thankful for.  Despite the turmoil in the world, I do feel very thankful for my family, my work, and the friends I share my life with.

    I'm also very thankful for ExhibiTricks Readers and Subscribers!  I really appreciate the thousands of you who read this blog each and every week.  If you ever have ideas or suggestions for ExhibiTricks, feel free to email me.

    And now, without further ado, here is one of my favorite posts about ways of thanking our donors, community supporters, and stakeholders:

    Many Ways To Say Thanks

    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.

    In the past, I've 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.

    Also, if you have some other really good examples of donor recognition installations or devices, feel free to contact me and email them along, and I can share them in future ExhibiTricks posts.




    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.

    Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

    If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Design Inspiration: Anonymouse




    Anonymouse is an anonymous Swedish artist collective that builds mouse-themed miniature buildings and displays them in public.




    Anonymouse posts pictures of their work on Instagram, like the ones featured in this post.




    I especially liked "Ricotta Records" and all the miniature mouse-themed record albums and posters inside.

    Ricotta Records exterior



    "Amy Winemouse" record album from Ricotta Records


    How can we inject more fun surprises like these mouse houses inside and outside our museums?



    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.

    Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

    If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Website Window: Street Art Utopia





    One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city is to wander around and find street art.


    Enter the Vortex in Paris


    My definition of street art is a fairly broad one, encompassing graffiti, murals, and site-specific installations.


    By Damon Belanger in Redwood City, California, USA.



    Alas, the COVID Pandemic has put a severe crimp into both traveling and wandering ...


    “Olivia mira el cielo” by Martín Ron



    So I was delighted to come upon the Street Art Utopia website which "declares the world as their canvas."



    Black Fox – In Riga, Latvia



    I've highlighted a few recent examples in this post, but click on over to the Street Art Utopia website yourself to see lots more!


    Bull sculpture by Dong Hyun Kang



    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.

    Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

    If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Make Some Paper and Tape Prototypes!


    Earlier this month I was delighted to present an exhibit prototyping workshop at the Museums Alaska conference.

    Thomas Edison said,  "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."  His reference was to inventing, but he could have also been speaking about prototyping.

    To me, prototyping is an iterative process that uses simple materials to help you answer questions about the physical aspects of your exhibit components (even labels!) early on in the development process.  

    Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine anyone fabricating an exhibit component without trying out a quick-and-dirty version first.  So in today's post, I thought I'd lay out the simple steps I use to show how quickly and inexpensively prototyping can be integrated into the beginning of any exhibit development process, and how you too can become an Office Supplies Prototyping Superstar!


    STEP ONE:  Figure out what you want to find out.

    In this case, a client wanted me to come up with an interactive version of a "Food Web" (the complex interrelationship of organisms in a particular environment, showing, basically, what eats what.)  We brainstormed a number of approaches (magnet board, touch screen computer) but finally settled on the notion of allowing visitors to construct a "Food Web Mobile" with the elements being the various organisms found (in this particular case) in a mangrove swamp.  The client was also able to provide me with a flow chart showing the relationships between organisms and a floor plan of the area where the final exhibit will be installed.

    The two initial things I wanted to test or find out about from my prototype were:

    1) Did people "get" the idea conceptually?  That is, did they understand the relationships and analogies between the Food Web Mobile and the actual organisms in the swamp?

    2) Could they easily create different sorts of physical arrangements with the mobile that were interesting and accurate?


    STEP TWO: Get out your junk!



    As in the Edison quote above, it helps to have a good supply of "bits and bobs" around to prototype with.  You might not have the same sorts of junk that I've gathered up over years in the museum exhibit racket, but everyone should have access to basic office supplies (stuff like paper, tape, markers, index cards, scissors, etc.)  And really that's all you need to start assembling prototypes. (The imagination part is important, too.)


    STEP THREE: Start playing around with the pieces ...




    Before I even start assembling a complete rough mechanism or system I like to gather all the parts together and see if I like how they work with each other.  In the case of the Food Web Mobile prototype, I used colored file folders to represent different levels of organisms.  I initially made each color/level out of the same size pieces, but then I changed to having each color be a different size.  Finally, I used a hole punch to make the holes and bent paper clips to serve as the hooks that would allow users to connect the pieces/organisms in different ways.



    STEP FOUR:  Assemble, then iterate, iterate, iterate!

     
    This is the part of the prototyping process that requires other people besides yourself.  Let your kids, your co-workers, your significant other, whoever (as long as it's somebody besides yourself) try out your idea. Obviously, the closer your "testers" are to the expected demographic inside the museum, the better --- ideally I like to prototype somewhere inside the museum itself. 

    Resist the urge to explain or over-explain your prototype.  Just watch what people do (or don't do!) with the exhibit component(s).  Take lots of notes/pictures/videos.  Then take a break to change your prototype based on what you've observed and heard, and try it out again.  That's called iteration.


    In this case, I saw right away that the mobile spun and balanced in interesting ways, but that meant that the labels would need to be printed on both sides of the pieces.  Fortunately, three young "testers" (ages 6, 11, and 13) seemed to "get" the concept of "Food Webs" embedded into the Mobile interactive, and started coming up with interesting physical variations on their own.


    For example, I initially imagined people would just try to create "balanced" arrangements of pieces on the Mobile.  But, as you can see below, the prototype testers enjoyed making "unbalanced" arrangements as well (which is fine, and makes sense conceptually as well.)   Also, we discovered that people realized that they could hang more than one "organism piece" on the lower hooks (which was also fine, and also made sense conceptually.)





    STEP FIVE: Figure out what's next ... even if it's the trash can!

    Do you need to change the label or some physical arrangement of your prototype?  Using simple, inexpensive materials makes that easy.

    Do you just need to throw out this prototype idea?  Using simple, inexpensive materials makes it easier to move on to a new idea, too. (Much more easily than if you had spent weeks crafting and assembling something out of expensive materials from your workshop...)  It's not too surprising to see people really struggle to let a bad exhibit idea go, especially if they've spent several weeks putting it together. Quick and cheap should be your watchwords early on in the prototyping process.

    In this case, I sent photos of the paper clip prototype and a short video showing people using the Food Web Mobile to the client as a "proof of concept."  They were quite pleased, and so now I will make a second-level prototype using materials more like those I expect to use in the "final" exhibit (which I'll update in a future post.)  Even so, I will still repeat the steps above of gathering materials, assembling pieces, and iterating through different versions with visitors. 

    I hope you'll give this "office supplies" version of exhibit prototyping a try for your next project!

    If you'd like me to give a prototyping workshop at your museum, contact me and check out the "Workshops" section of the POW! website to see examples of other workshops I've done for museum groups all over the world!

     

    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.

    Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

    If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Taking on Unpaid Internships with Sweatober!




    The National Emerging Museum Professionals Network (NEMPN) is taking aim at unpaid internships, seeking to end the practice in museums, libraries, and archives. The Network launched its inaugural "Sweatober" campaign to fund previously unpaid internships in museums and to encourage individuals to “sweat to pay interns.”

    A dual-purpose campaign, Sweatober operates like a walk-a-thon, encouraging participants to “get moving” and to raise funds while they do it. Participants can register as teams or individuals, and donors can offer support by the number of exercise minutes recorded or with a flat monetary donation. Participants commit to a minimum of 200 minutes and to raise $200. The campaign also features branded gear, and all proceeds support the program.

    “We launched Sweatober to bring attention to unpaid internships and the detriment they cause to young professionals’ early careers and their long-term earning and career potential,” said Sierra Van Ryck de Groot, co-President of the NEMPN Board of Directors. “NEMPN hears from far too many young professionals who enter the museum field only to find that they can’t afford the career that they’ve chosen, and then they have to give up their passion. Unpaid internships, which presently make up most of the opportunities in the field, play a significant role in this.”

    As of August 2021, more than 40-percent of internships across all industries in the United States remain unpaid, and students with unpaid internships on their resumes can expect to earn far less at full-time jobs than those with paid internships.

    According to Van Ryck de Groot, part of the problem is that internships are often required for incoming museum professionals to get an interview for a full-time position. “In museums, we consistently see entry-level positions with base entry-level pay requiring two to three years of relevant work experience on top of a degree,” she said. “This means that those coming into the field out of college must secure an internship for three out of four years of their college experience, and paid internships are rare.”

    Unpaid internships create troubling trends in pay inequity for paid professionals. In the museum industry, incoming professionals with a four-year degree can expect to earn less than $40,000 per year on average across all U.S. cities, and those with unpaid internships don’t have the connections, experience, or salary history to leverage towards a job. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found in 2016 that the non-profit job offer rate for graduates with paid internships on their resumes was 51.7-percent versus 41.5-percent for those with unpaid internships. Compounding the problem, the study found that entry-level non-profit professionals who completed unpaid internships were offered up to $10,500 less than those who had secured paid internships.

    “Young professionals who take on unpaid internships start their careers on unequal footing,” said Sierra Polisar, co-President of the NEMPN Board of Directors. “They’re conditioned to believe that experience and the mission are more important than being able to pay your bills, and often, they’re paying tuition for internship credits in addition to not getting paid. On top of that, they are often missing out on the types of learning and networking experiences that come with paid internships, where organizations are more invested in the outcome. All of these things make it difficult to get an interview, get an offer, and negotiate for your present and your future.”

    In addition to Sweatober, NEMPN will soon launch its signature Dreamweavers program to give internship coordinators the tools to transform their unpaid internship programs into paid learning experiences. “The goal of Dreamweavers is to put an end to unpaid internships and also to transform internships that don’t teach actionable skills into opportunities for interns to learn from people who are invested in their long-term success,” said Polisar. Dreamweavers launches in early 2022.

    To join the Sweatober campaign against unpaid internships, register a team or donate at the Pledgeit Sweatober Campaign Headquarters.

    To grab your Sweatober gear, visit the NEMPN Sweatober Store.




    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.

    Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

    If you enjoy the blog, you can help keep it free to read and free from ads by supporting ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"