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Engaging audiences with exhibitions in early development – Signs and the 1980s

Much like other museums we’ve started in earnest committing to engaging collaborators in exhibitions from the earliest stages possible. Our next two big(-ish) exhibitions are using different methods to collate, curate, and select content and ideas.

Our upcoming exhibition on Signs which will open around the time of Sydney Design 09 in August has just launched a Flickr group focussed on collecting the best, strangest, and ‘altered’ signage from around Australia.

By encouraging the use of a Creative Commons license we are hoping that some of these images will be featured in the exhibition and those that are geo-tagged may end up being used for walking tours. There will be specific challenges issued to the group over the coming months so if you have some great photos of signage around Australia, join up and participate. 6 days in we’ve already collected 173 photos form 114 people!

Another exhibition planned to open a little later this year is focussing on Australia in the 1980s. Now given the period in focus we’re operating on three different fronts. Firstly we launched an exhibition development blog written by the two curators, Peter Cox and Rebecca Bower. The blog introduces and teases out the key exhibition themes and is allowing the curatorial staff to ‘test’ ideas and ‘talk out loud’ about their plans.

Second, the blog links to a Flickr group where, like the Sign Design group, we are inviting people to submit photos of themselves and others in the 1980s. This is going to be a tricky challenge as relatively few people people have digitised their photos from the 1980s compared to the huge volume of digital born material of current times. We see this as an opportunity.

Thirdly there’s the Facebook group – an obvious choice – where we’re expecting a different kind of community will emerge around the exhibition content – less image-based and more conversational.

(Apologies to regular readers – it has been very busy and the blog has had to lay idle. However a large backlog of posts which will emerge over coming weeks along with the fruits of some exciting projects.)

2 replies on “Engaging audiences with exhibitions in early development – Signs and the 1980s”

Hi Seb – this reminds me a little of the work that has been going on at the V&A over the last few years during the development of the Medieval and Renaissance project.
A member of the Education Dept has been producing a blog that test out ideas and updates readers on development – for example sample label text is available on Flickr. The added focus on content sharing and development that you mention is an obvious yet important step in engaging visitors in the whole aspect of exhibition development.

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