Free Exhibit Resources

Exhibit Resources from POW!

The Great Big Exhibit Resource List

A constantly updated compendium of resources for museum design and exhibit fabrication (including websites and contact information.)
>> view resource

Donor Recognition Examples

This is a PDF of examples of Donor Walls and other recognition devices in museums that were featured in an ExhibiTricks blog post. It's a BIG file so be patient as it loads.
>> view resource

Cheap Exhibit Ideas from the ASTC Exhibit Cheapbooks

Here are a few examples of the types of simple, inexpensive exhibit ideas to be found in each of the three volumes of The Exhibit Cheapbooks which I originated and edited.
>> view resource

POW! in The New York Times

A nice review of a children's interactive art exhibition I created for the Nassau County Museum of Art.
>> view resource

Downloadable Exhibit Articles by Paul Orselli

"Producing Great Exhibits on a (Not So Great) Budget"

My article from the January/February 2014 issue of ASTC's Dimensions magazine. Some simple, inexpensive ways to add to your exhibits program.
>> download the PDF now

"Green Design Nuts and Bolts"

An article jam-packed with resources and techniques to help you expand your green exhibit design toolkit.
>> download the PDF now

"Million Dollar Pencils and Duct Tape: Some Thoughts on Prototyping"

Concrete examples and tips about how to move through each phase of the exhibit prototyping process.
>> download the PDF now

"Good Things Come In Small Packages" (Small Museums Article)

Lessons learned from a quarter century of working with a variety of different types and sizes of museums.
>> download the PDF now

"Do You Really Need a 3D Printer, and Other Essential Questions You Need to Ask about a Museum’s Makerspace"

5 questions to consider when creating (or updating!) a Makerspace or design-based learning environment at your museum.
>> download the PDF now

ExhibiTricks blog

  • "Have good Big Ideas and write short labels."




    I sent my colleague Beverly Serrell**  an email asking how best to respond when a museum team wants to "digitally expand" the information on exhibition labels using QR codes or screens or the like.

    I liked Beverly's response so much, that I asked her permission to share it here on the ExhibiTricks blog:


    This is a very familiar idea, that there are museum visitors who might want more information than they see and use on the labels in an exhibition and would be willing to follow a link or code to get it somewhere else (e.g., in another gallery, on their phone, on the Internet). There are several assumptions embedded here that make this a weak or even bad idea, because.... 

    1. The number of people who actually want more information is a small percentage. 

    2. The number of people who use QR codes or remember to look for more information in another place is small. 

    3. The amount of work to provide high-quality information for that small percentage is not worth it. 

    4. More people will actually use shorter labels, so writing short labels to begin with makes a better user-ratio.  

    5. Lots of information is instantly available on visitors' phones. You don't need to write more.

    Notice that the above is all based on "information" rather than "interpretation." The purpose of exhibit labels is interpretation, not information. Information is about presenting knowledge. Interpretation is about provoking curiosity, revelation, interest, and meaning. Anyone who gets stimulated by the labels (and we hope that lots of people will be) can search for what exists already on the Internet to find out more.

    So, the mindset should be: Have good Big Ideas and write short labels. 


    **Beverly Serrell is the author of Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approachthe definitive book about (wait for it ...) exhibit labels.  If you don't already own a copy you should click on the Amazon link above and get Beverly's book for yourself. (Or at the very least read this interview I did with Beverly when the second edition of Exhibit Labels was published.)



    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, please help support ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Designer's Toolbox: Information is Beautiful



    Can information be beautiful? 

    The website Information is Beautiful answers that question by helping users make more informed decisions about the world through data visualizations based on constantly updated facts -- some of which I've featured in this post.

    Created by David McCandless and his team, Information is Beautiful seeks to transform important (if sometimes somewhat complicated) data into strong and understandable visualizations.




    The infographics cover a range of vital topics such as health, energy, and society. I appreciate how these images inspire me to think of dense information in new ways.

    The Information is Beautiful team has also made all their datasets freely available, so you can dig into the numbers yourself (and check the veracity of their graphics if you like!)

    Check out the related website called Beautiful News that serves up daily infographics highlighting data-rich topics focused on current events.





    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, please help support ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Where Can You Find Things Like Giant Sequins And Fake Dirt? Check Out The Great Big Exhibit Resource List!


    Developers, designers, and educators often need to track down unusual (or very specific) items to create museum exhibitions or trade show displays.

    That's where The Great Big Exhibit Resource List comes in!

    What started out years ago as a project for an ASTC Conference session, has now blossomed into an ever-growing and evolving set of resources organized by categories like "Fake Food", "Green Exhibits Materials", and "Glow-In-The-Dark Stuff".  (As a matter of fact, I just added some new entries this week.)

    Blacksmith tools?  No problem!  Specialized plastic boxes? Sure!  Giant sequins for an air exhibit? Click the link!

    Click on over to The Great Big Exhibit Resource List to explore the possibilities yourself.  (If you have suggestions for additions to the list, feel free to drop me an email.)

    And while you finding the exhibit supplies of your dreams in The List, also check out the FREE Exhibit Resources page on the POW! Website.  There you'll find downloadable articles and resources such as donor recognition examples as well as a wide range of museum/exhibit/design topics like those covered here on the ExhibiTricks blog.



    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, please help support ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Don't Stop




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

    Don't stop.

    In solidarity with colleagues and citizens around the world -- where cultural history has been destroyed by accident, by neglect, by violence --

    Don't stop.

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

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

    Don't stop.

    All those little things add up --- for you, and your visitors.  There will always be things to rebuild, things to improve, but take time to look back at how far you have come, what you have built and accomplished, not just what is left undone.

    Don't stop.

    The world is better for your efforts.



    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, please help support ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"
  • Museum/Exhibit/Design Toolbox: Wilkening Consulting's Data Stories






    Susie Wilkening provides outstanding museum audience research services through her company, Wilkening Consulting.

    Susie also provides "Data Stories" in a free downloadable format on the Wilkening Consulting website -- a great resource for the field. (An example of a Data Story is at the top of this post.)

    Data Stories are punchy infographics that tell stories based on Wilkening's research with museums and people who visit museums.  The Data Stories provide a great way to summarize important information on topics ranging from young adult museum-goers to empathy and curiosity in museums. The format is perfect to share with staff, donors, and community stakeholders.

    The information is drawn from research with thousands of museum-goers from across the country, and did I mention they are provided for FREE?

    So click on over to the Wilkening Consulting website to learn more, and while you are there find out how your museum can participate in the 2020 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers in collaboration with the American Alliance of 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, please help support ExhibiTricks through our PayPal "Tip Jar"