This blog post will serve to catch me up to the present in terms of posting schedule. I did some traveling at the end of July/the beginning of August to New Orleans and missed a week of work I only have two weeks to document instead of three.
Week of July 28th and July 29th
The highlight of this week for me was when my supervisor and I led a meeting with the heads of the Marketing, Exhibit Design, and Education departments to discuss the design of the exhibit space that will be used to showcase the winning entries of the FashioNEXT program. Having very little to no experience in the realm of exhibit design I was interested to see the how meetings like this set the stage for final development of an exhibit space.
I soon found the biggest concerns for the Exhibit Design team as well as the Marketing team were the deadlines for the contest myself and my supervisor has tentatively established. Working backwards from the time of the FashioNEXT exhibit “reveal,” we had to factor in deadlines based on the demands of another large-scale exhibit slated to open at the Chicago History Museum in the winter. I learned that museum Exhibit Design departments and Marketing, especially with institutions as large as the Chicago History Museum, have to deal with tight deadlines throughout the year from various projects. Although not illuminating per se, it did give me a new-found appreciation for the behind-the-scenes work done to support the success of museum exhibits. Needless to say we pushed the deadlines back a week to give these departments plenty of time to shift gears from one exhibit to another.
In the meeting we also discussed restrictions of the given exhibit space and how to display the items to their best effect in spite of the limited area the museum allocated for the exhibition. The space allocated for the exhibit is very small and beside the donor wall in the main lobby of the museum. Lighting, banners, floor decals, and panels were all considered to make the smaller space more visually interesting. It reminded me of discussions in Digital Media that stressed the importance of usability, interface, and appearance of the online resource as well as the content. In this particular case, the concerns of the design teams were to be as attractive as possible visually in order to invite engagement. I am looking forward to seeing how the exhibit attracts viewers given the uniqueness and limitations of the given space.
Week of August 11th- August 12th
Since I am approaching the end of my internship at the museum, one of the final tasks I must perform to prepare this program for implementation is purchasing supplies, or ideally, getting them donated to the museum. Throughout the summer I have done a lot of work sending out fundraising letters and cold-calling retailers and supporters of the museum to assess their interest. Fundraising has been the biggest chore for me thus far as I rarely hear back from anyone I reach out to; however, I have managed to acquire additional funding from arts organizations in the city to go toward the purchasing of supplies. I was able to confidently approach many organizations because of the experience I gained from Public History Methods & Theory designing a fundraising project for the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society. I’m not as concerned about the slow response time since there is still so much time left before the program begins– more urgent and aggressive methods would probably need to be used closer to the event. Luckily, there is a generous budget already for supplies so whatever is not donated can be bought.
Keeping track of the event budget, purchasing supplies, reaching out to organizations for donations, and performing outreach to community organizations generally fill my days as an Education Assistant. My next two weeks are meant to be my last but my supervisor approached me to see if I might be interested in seeing the event through to the end. If my schedule permits, I hope to continue the work I’m doing at the Chicago History Museum into the school year. Having the experience of planning a large-scale educational program like this would be a valuable credential to take with me into future career prospects.