Welcome to module 11

Learning Objectives


Module 11 will introduce students to the unique way of sharing museum collections with the public, through exhibits.

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Define what makes a contemporary museum exhibition
  • List at least two ethical considerations associated with the exhibit-making process
  • Describe two ways exhibit-making is a collaborative process

lecture THEMES

the ethics of exhibiting collections

Angela Linn introduces some of the ethical questions museum collections staff and content providers need to consider when working on exhibitions. (13:53)

how to choose exhibits

UAMN Director of Exhibits, Roger Topp, explains the process and rationale used for selecting special exhibit topics at the Museum. (13:14)

collaborations in exhibit-making

Each semester we will invite museum staff who have guest curated an exhibit to join the class during our weekly Meet Up to share those experiences, the challenges, and how they learned to be a better communicator through the exhibit development process.


Creating and working with exhibits in museums requires a shared vocabulary between users. Learn this list of terms to better comprehend the readings and videos for this module.

  1. Audience
  2. Evaluation
  3. Content
  4. Interpretation
  5. Concept Design
  6. Exhibit Design
  7. Graphic Design
  8. Production
  9. Accessibility
  10. Installation
  11. Preparator
  12. Universal design
  13. Accessible design
  14. Inclusive design

Activities / Assignments

Reading / Video content



Museum Inside Out: The Exhibition Designer (2:04)

Adam Savage Meets a Smithsonian Exhibit Designer (10:16)

Waikato Museum behind the scenes – Richard Thomas – Preparator (4:48)

Science Today: Creating a Colorful Exhibit | California Academy of Sciences (4:31)



For Exploration:


Log into our course shell in Canvas and go to ‘Quizzes’ on the left side menu.

Take ‘Quiz 11’: Museum Exhibits” You will have up to three attempts to match the vocabulary and definitions. Click over to Canvas to take quiz 11.

Meet Up

Time to get together! This is optional but highly encouraged. We will meet via Zoom at 12:30 pm (AKDT) on Friday April 7. The link to the session can be found in this Google Document (you must be part of the class to view the document). If you are unable to join the meeting will be recorded and you will be expected to review the recording prior to writing your discussion post (see below).

Assignment – Discussion

This week you have an interactive assignment.

Find and compare two online museum exhibits – one that you think illustrates a collaborative effort and one that does not. Describe the effectiveness of each and identify the design elements that contribute to your assessment.

  1. Write an entry on this website course site describing your Assignment. Your post should be roughly 500 words and should include an image.
  2. Comment on at least two other posts
  3. Select “11. Exhibits Discussion” from the list of discussion categories on the right hand side of your posting window on the dashboard.

Looking Forward

Next week we’ll look at famous museum controversies and the resulting fallout for the profession.

Did you know?

Fun tidbit not to be tested on.

The Natural History Museum of Denmark, although formally established in 2004, traces its history back to a collection made by OIe Worm (1588-1654) known as Museum Wormianum. This assemblage consisted mainly of a wide-range of natural history specimens: stuffed animals, dried plants, and rocks & minerals from all over the world. Museum Wormianum merged with the Royal Kunstkammer, which later became the Geological Museum and Zoological Museum. The Zoological Museum still has on display one of the pieces from this first museum of Denmark – an oak root (mounted upside down) grown around the lower jaw of a horse.

Engraved title page and frontispiece spread, Worm, Ole. 1655. Museum Wormianum. Smithsonian Libraries.