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  • Writer's picturePhillip Ratliff

Think holistically about your next exhibit

Updated: 7 days ago

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The exhibit isn't everything. Yes, it's the main thing, just as the food at your favorite restaurant is the main thing. But could you imagine your favorite restaurant without any branding or advertising, decor, or theming, without waiters in uniforms -- just you at a table with a plate of food? You probably want the add-ons to reflect, to enhance, to point to, a delicious encounter with food. You want an experience.

Similarly, exhibits need more than panels on walls. First, you want to describe that experience before you invest lots of money in the endeavor. How do people find out about you? Who are these people? Have budget for an interpretive plan. It’s a small part of your undertaking but, ooh boy, can it save you money.

And you want to forge connections with specific audience segments. School groups are one such segment. Families are another. An interpretive plan defines these segments but it also reveals what else you need by way of collaterals, including a curriculum guide, maybe a visitor’s guide. These pre-organizers orient your audience segments for the visit.

Finally, you need people to see these exhibits! Also have funding set aside for social media posts and even an easy website or set of webpages on your current website. What you say about your museum helps potential visitors achieve buy-in.                                                                                           

These trappings can drive up your budget. Fortunately, funders recognize that investing in what surrounds an exhibit actually helps the exhibit itself do what you want it to do. That’s why all of these concerns tend to be items you have to account for in your funding requests. 

Backstory wants to help all its clients think holistically about their project: building it, promoting it, maintaining it, improving it. There’s strength in thinking through all the moving parts of such an undertaking, starting with defining what you want to accomplish.

To discuss how Backstory can help you launch your interpretive space, contact Phil Ratliff at 205.234.0336, It's surprisingly easy and may cost less than you think.

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