Yesterday I had the great opportunity to be part of a session with two previous coworkers - Roula Tsapalas from Quatrefoil Associates and Jim Greenhouse from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. We talked about best practices for working with contractors coming from both sides of the equation - Jim has had experience in seven different museums creating exhibits in-house and with contractors, Roula is a physical exhibit designer with a background in architecture, and I talked about creating multimedia. It was a fun talk to give and we hope that everyone came with a good idea of how to work with contractors to get the best outcome for their next exhibit plans.
The tldr; version:
- Communicate! Everyone on both sides of the equation needs to have a clear idea of what is expected of them and what they need to accomplish the goal
- Get your story straight! Great exhibits are about telling stories. Know your story and stick to it - make sure you have your content, or at least know where to get it
- Prototype, Proof, Preview! Testing and prototyping can help improve your product and make sure the results of the project match everyone's expectations.
After the talk we played a game in which the room was split up into about six groups and everyone was randomly assigned a piece of content and a goal, and then everyone shared how they would approach that project. If you want to try the game, that's right over here.
This was my first time getting the chance to do a talk with other people, and I really enjoyed it. Roula was great at coaching me to address my audience of educators and curators instead of waxing eloquent about technical details. I'd worked with Jim for three years, but surprisingly we'd never worked on a presentation together before.