One of the benefits, I have found, from working at home fulltime is the ability to do more research and during down times in freelance work, to go out and check out things around the city. These have mainly turned out to be exhibits I never had the chance to go see when I worked in an office all day. When I studied graphic design, my original dream was to become an exhibit designer and I still am amazingly interested in the lighting, information, space and content that exhibits hold. I am most interested in how multiple pieces of information in an open space can be organized, convey content to a wide audience, create a narrative and the strategy involved in creating an emotion or overall theme.
Today, I decided to go to the Minnesota History Museum in Saint Paul. Being a huge history fan, and specifically revolutionary way and civil war history, I went to see the Benjamin Franklin exhibit that is showing through July.
It was a beautiful exhibit with lots of real artifacts and interactive components. But, the real jewel of the day for me was seeing a permanent exhibit in the museum called Minnesota's Greatest Generation. This exhibit focuses on the generation of Minnesotans who were born in the 1910s and 1920s, fought and worked during WWII and started the baby boom generation. I was amazed by the organization and flow of the content, the real artifacts with real stories told by the owners, the interest in the space with interactive and large and small elements and the amount of detail taken into each aspect.
I would highly recommend this exhibit to anyone. The flow is really interesting and even though there is a lot of content to read and take in, you will be drawn to artifacts or objects that are of most interest to you.
A few people have asked me and I decided to write a quick list of some of the favorite exhibits I have ever seen (besides the one I saw today and mentioned above). I do not have photographs of most of them, so check out the sites I have linked.
1. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museumin Washington D.C. designed by Ralph Applebaum Associates I saw this exhibit when I was in the 7th grade and it had a profound effect on me. I went through the space and left feeling incredibly uncomfortable, moved and sobered by the real artifacts (including shoes and human hair). The whole space and the way you are moved through makes you feel a sense of darkness and confinement, without actually physically touching you.
2. U-505 Submarine
at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I love history, so this exhibit was amazing, but it also had so many interactive content and very well designed typographic information and photographs. You can also get inside of the U-Boat!
3. The Hall of Biodiversity at American Museum of Natural History in New York City. This was recently reopened a few years ago after heavy duty renovation. I did not see it until a trip with my husband in 2007. The sky-high walls of different biological information and then the room with the life-sized whale hanging from the ceiling are both amazing! I was most impressed with the darkness and coolness of the space overall, which gives an underwater sense to the exhibit.
4. The New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I saw this museum in 1999 when I was visiting the Rhode Island School of Design before I began attending as a student. This museum has a whaling ship inside its space and also does an amazing job through the typography and real artifacts of creating general interest in pretty specific groups of information. The museum also is very lucky to be in a typical New England town, right by the ocean, which help adds to the timeless feeling. That included the cobblestone streets and smell of sea water.