Recent News

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

  • Celebrating Creativity During A Pandemic



    Sometimes it is hard to turn away from the "pit of despair" that seems to characterize life during the July 2020 pandemic reality in the United States.


    But wait!  It is not all doom-and-gloom!  Artist Federico Tobon, of wolfCat Workshop, has used paper clips, cardboard, scraps of wood, and tape to create wonderful and whimsical little mechanical sculptures, some of which are featured in this post.


    Tobon also created a video collection of some creations entitled "29 automata in 6 minutes" which you can see on YouTube or embedded below.



    You probably have all the materials you need at home right now to put together your own pandemic plaything -- why not give it a whirl?





    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"
  • My "Pandemic Project”



    When the restrictions and precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic took hold on Long Island, where my family and I live, it immediately became apparent that we were entering strange new territory. The notion of “working from home” and having meetings and conferences remotely, was not that different from much of my usual consulting workflow, but two other things soon became apparent.

    First, as every museum conference I was scheduled to speak at or attend was canceled or postponed, the notion of “social distancing” on a professional level became very real, very quickly.  I missed the opportunity of seeing museum friends and colleagues in-person!

    Secondly, and related to professional social (and physical!) distancing, I missed the back-and-forth of sharing and learning from each other – which strikes me as one of the underlying strengths of the museum field that sets it apart from many other professions.

    So, what to do?  Well, what I did was to take up with new vigor the idea of “Museum FAQ”  videos (FAQ is tech-speak for “Frequently Asked Questions”) that, quite honestly, I had started a while ago but had left aside.  Now I started contacting museum colleagues to find out if they would be willing to have a conversation with me via Zoom (of course!) about a museum topic that would draw upon their personal experience and expertise.

    To my delight (and relief!) folks readily agreed, and now I have started to build up a freely available library of videos on my POW! YouTube channel that covers a wide range of topics from Museum Management to Exhibit Design to Science Communication. Even though the videos are being recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, the topics covered, and tips and techniques shared, are truly “evergreen” in the sense that they will still provide interesting and useful information for, hopefully, years to come. 

    While I continue to record Museum FAQ videos, three videos, in particular, stand out for me.

    Christian Greer, President & CEO of the Michigan Science Center, brought forward a thoughtful (and timely!) discussion about managing in times of transition.  I was struck by how eloquently Christian shared tactics for balancing the foundation of Mission with the flexibility and creativity needed for turbulent times.

    On a completely different topic, Amparo Leyman Pino shared successful ways she has used language as an interpretive tool in museums. Amparo moved beyond the more familiar multilingual labels to the ideas of blended language and language-neutral environments.

    Lastly, exhibit designer Margaret Middleton shared a fun and informative way to think about creating more inclusive museums by walking us through how to plan for better infant care and feeding areas as a model for the process.  

    I hope you’ll click on over to the POW! YouTube channel to view some Museum FAQ videos for yourself – and, better yet, please let me know if there are new topics that we could have a Museum FAQ conversation about together to share with our museum colleagues on YouTube!  (Don't forget to hit the big red "Subscribe" button when you get to YouTube!)

    (This post was adapted, with permission, from a piece I submitted for the online version of Informal Learning Review, Special Issue #2  June 2020 p.26)



    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"
  • Tasty Failures




    The other day one of my sons wanted to cook up a little surprise for our family.  He worked hard to make some onion bhaji based on a recipe that one of his college friends taught him.  (You can try making some of your own bhajis by following this recipe.)

    Everyone enjoyed our special appetizers and found them quite tasty, but I noticed my son was a little upset and I asked him what the problem was.  He was disappointed that the bhaji hadn't turned out exactly how he had hoped and had actually thrown some of them away because he didn't think they were "good enough" to serve.

    We are often our own worst critics, and many times the fear of "less than perfect" paralyzes our work. 

    Sometimes parts of an exhibition or a new program won't be completed or be *perfect* on opening day -- and while that might gnaw at us as creators, our visitors are usually focused on the 99% of what's working well, not the 1% that's missing or imperfect.

    Let's continue to learn from our failures, but let's also take time to savor our successes.



    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"
  • Every Minute and Every Dollar is a Vote



    The ways we spend our time and money indicate our priorities.

    One of the strengths of museum workers is our capacity to share information and resources as well as sharing of ourselves to help others.  With that in mind, I'm going to offer one suggestion for where to spend your money and another suggestion for where to spend your time.


    A Place to Spend Your Money

    Please consider contributing to the Museum Workers Relief Fund to help our colleagues in need.  From their GoFundMe page:

    "It has become clear to us that when our institutions will not stand in solidarity with us, we must stand in solidarity with one another."

    Museum Workers Releief Fund logo



    A Place to Spend Your Time

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I've started a Museum FAQ video project to share ideas with museum workers through a series of YouTube conversations with museum thinkers from around the world.  Please check out the Museum FAQ YouTube page and let me know your suggestions for future Museum FAQ topics.





    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"
  • “We Knew How to Do This” - Creating #MuseumSurvivalKit





    In this guest post, two of the founders of #MuseumSurvivalKit, Michelle Moon and Sarah Pharaon, were kind enough to share how the project came about, as well as news about the upcoming Museum Survival Week!



    “We Knew How to Do This” -  Creating #MuseumSurvivalKit

    Even in the time of Zoom, somehow the best ideas are born in casual meetings over drinks. During a virtual happy hour - one of the more enjoyable Zoom calls we found ourselves on with seemingly never-ending frequency - a group of us fell into talking of our colleagues, some working from home, some furloughed or laid off. We spoke of friends whose interpretive portfolios consist largely of work developed at history museums, where over years, they learned and honed skills of the past that they used, season after season, to connect visitors to a history they loved. We joked about how those interpreters would survive the zombie apocalypse far longer than us: they know home remedies, have sourdough starters, and can hand-craft weaponry. 


    And we laughed, and changed topics, and ultimately ended the call. But the idea that museums might be a source of real survival skills stayed with us after we all pressed “leave meeting” that night.  




    Taking It Seriously 

    The next day, we had an email exchange, checking with one another. Had we stumbled on a good idea? We knew that museums are full of the skills and stories our fellow humans used to manage the challenges of their lives - in crisis times, in hardship, under oppression, and just responding to the demands of everyday life. Telling these stories is what we do. But in this time when museums are considered “non-essential,” did people know that they can turn to our institutions to rediscover some of the inspiring, creative, and practical strategies our communities and our ancestors have developed over time? We asked ourselves: What if we made #MuseumSurvivalKit a Real Thing? Did it have enough juice that others would want to take part? Did we have the skills to produce it? Did we have the energy, in such a crazy busy time, to give it a shot? We weren’t really sure - but we decided to go for it. And we got right to work. 

    Production was fast-paced, a Stone Soup of contributions from each of our strengths. Each of us found a place to add something needed: text drafting from Michelle Moon, graphic design from Sarah Pharaon, website creation by Tobi Voigt, and outreach strategies from Melanie Adams and Jackie Barton, with many encouraging and critically constructive emails in between. Many of us learned how to do things for the project we would have, in the past, asked colleagues at our organizations to help us with.  Most of us had other things to work on, but the idea was compelling, and the work was fun - a bright spot in a dark time. 



    Celebrating Abundance

    Part of the promise we saw in #MuseumSurvivalKit is that it highlights the assets and strengths museums bring to the public conversation - working against the scarcity mindset that plagues our field. All of us have recently been part of conversations driven by a desperate sense of competition - “How will we survive in the pandemic environment? What is [insert institution] putting out? We need to get this out fast, before [insert institution]! We need to grab that SBA and PPP and CARES money before it runs out! ” This project aims for collective contribution, explicitly encouraging participating organizations and individuals to freely share their work under a collaborative identity while highlighting what makes them and their teams unique. It pulls from the idea that we need not compete for visitor attention, but rather, that we can create a sense of abundance by focusing on the field’s work as culture bearers.   



    Moving at the Speed of Trust 

    Once the project launched on May 6, we stood back a little stunned at what, with our first-round contributors, we had all just created. It had come together so quickly and in such a satisfying way. There was something about this that felt different from many of the projects we do as museum workers. Because we knew one another and respect one another’s work, we were able to go into it with a high level of trust, and (as trust has been shown to do) that gave the work speed. 



    Off the Leash (Or Giving Ourselves Permission) 

    We also reveled in the project’s independence. There was a heady sense of freedom in being able to create something that required no approvals, no vetting, no organizational buy-in - we just did it, with no need to ask anyone’s permission. Rarely do museum professionals get to enjoy such profound nimbleness.

    It helped us to better see the strengths and weaknesses of institutional review: there are times it really does help to have lots of eyes on a project, to expose it to critical views, to vet it for representation and other equity needs, and to invite wider shaping influences. But that process also can come at the cost of experimentation. Here, we got a chance to try working leaner and more iteratively; instead of trying to get it perfect out of the gate, we worked with it responsively once it was out in the world, making tweaks as we went and observed how it was being received. There’s a good chance museum workers will be doing more of this in our new environment of short-term planning horizons. It’s a good muscle to exercise. 

    The non-hierarchical nature of our relationships was important as well.  With no one “managing” the project and no one “reporting” to each other, the initiative moved forward as the product of a team of equals. We made decisions by consensus and saw a surprising degree of alignment in our working styles, values, and preferences - especially given that none of us had worked together before.  We, as Sarah’s mom says, “threw spaghetti at the wall” and were happy to move forward with whatever stuck. Because none of our professional reputations were at stake, we were okay with whatever mess the spaghetti made. Perfection was not our aim.  



    It’s All About Resilience 

    #MuseumSurvivalKit is more than a set of how-tos. It’s an affirmation of human resilience. From the beginning, we defined “survival” expansively - as Melanie Adams said, “it’s not just about canning and butter churning. I think of people sitting with their community and making a quilt together, giving emotional support to one another.” So far, #MuseumSurvivalKit contributions have included things like wild foraging and natural rope making - but people are also using the hashtag to talk about Black hair care, conflict resolution, zine-making, and mixing historical cocktails. Survival is just as much about telling stories, providing mutual aid, making music, getting along with one another, and collective problem-solving as it is about finding food in the forest or boiling maple syrup. Every person and every community and every historical era has something to teach us about surviving, and thriving, in challenging times. And we can use all the knowledge they are willing to share. 

    And as museum professionals, the project was an exercise in resilience for us, too. It was good to spend time together and be creative. In a time of seemingly unending bad news, for the culture and particularly for our field,  it felt good to focus on positivity and to design something our colleagues might find joy in. 



    Next Step: Museum Survival Week

    The project is continually evolving, as we learn from our experiences. To spark the next round of participation, we have created Museum Survival Week, June 1-7, 2020.  During this week, we encourage everyone to take part, not just museums. Are you an individual who’s learned something with, in, or from a museum? It’s your time to shine! You’ll find all the participation details here, and please follow #MuseumSurvivalKit during the first week of June to see what others share. Together, and drawing on the rich resources of our cultural heritages, we will get through this.  




    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"