Friday, June 26, 2009

Out and about with Museum Explorer

Museum Explorer creates experiences to delight visitors. As we plan exhibits and programs, we put the visitor front and center. We aim to set a welcoming stage for people to delve into ideas, see relationships, kindle a passion, consider beliefs in a different light or just learn a little something new. Our hope: to ignite excitement! We work hard to prepare thoughtful spaces where people enjoy learning in non-traditional ways—and find themselves motivated to learn more.

We imagine the visitor as a good friend, and the exhibit as an enthusiastic conversation about a subject we love. How to start that conversation? That’s where we roll up our sleeves.

Here’s what we’ve been up to lately. . . .

Taking a bow!

In September 2008, Museum Explorer received a 2008 Award of Excellence for Exhibition from the Illinois Association of Museums for our work on the “Getting There, Getting Water, Getting Rescued” exhibit at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum. We’re proud to have had the opportunity to share in this award with ARFM Chief Curator David Lewis and Dimension Craft Inc., the exhibit fabricator.

Success at AAM

At the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in April, Rich Faron of Museum Explorer participated in a panel session “Wheeling Visitors In!” With colleagues Heidi Moisan (Chicago History Museum), Michelle Nichols (Adler Planetarium) and Susan Nichols (Smithsonian American Art Museum), Rich explored ways to integrate design, programming and audience needs using custom-designed wheeled program carts. In the Museum Explorer repertoire, carts have become a huge success: not only do they deliver important content in engaging ways, but they offer plenty of bang for the buck.

Planning and promoting an up-and-coming exhibit

Since January, Museum Explorer has been working under the direction of DuSable Museum President and CEO Antoinette D. Wright on a planning document for the DuSable Museum of African American History to use in promoting its upcoming exhibit on African American Olympians. Stay tuned.

Sprucing up zoo signage

We continue our ongoing spruce-up of graphics, labels, signage and exhibit elements for the Lincoln Park Zoo, including “You Are Here” maps. Museum Explorer is working with Dimension Craft Inc. to install a large-format photo exhibition for the small-mammal house and new outdoor graphics around the pond and flamingo habitat.

Developing graphics for a museum “scavenger hunt”

Based on ideas developed by Heidi Moisan, Manager of School Programs at the Chicago History Museum, Museum Explorer is designing graphics for a soon-to-be-unveiled education program at CHM. Working with program facilitators, student field-trippers will use “clue cards” to search CHM’s permanent exhibits, scavenger-hunt-style, for artifacts and objects. Then they’ll plot and pinpoint each object’s provenance location on a map of Chicago built into interactive activity cart.

Creating the vision for a new science center

In conjunction with FGM Architects (Oak Brook, IL), Payette Architects (Boston, MA) and Lynch Exhibits (Burlington, NJ), Museum Explorer recently concluded a project for Wheaton College to imagine a 5-story atrium exhibition space in Wheaton’s new science building, now in the budgeting phase. Our comprehensive planning document for the Wheaton College Science Center includes written exhibition scenarios, design concepts and CAD layouts as it presents ideas for exhibit content, interactive exhibits, collections displays and multimedia presentations.

Revising exhibit elements and labels

Based on the results of a recent evaluation conducted by Morton Arboretum staff, Museum Explorer is working with Children’s Garden Director Katherine Johnson to update graphic elements for exhibit labels and experience boxes used in the Morton Arboretum Children’s Garden.

Prototyping exhibit interactives

In collaboration with DuPage Children’s Museum Director of Exhibits Peter Crabbe and Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist Marcia MacRae, Museum Explorer has concluded exhibit development, concept design and rough prototyping for the wind garden interactive in the “Air Works” exhibit for DCM. Constructed in our shop, the prototypes were tested at DCM late last fall and early winter, with great success. The exhibit is now being detailed and constructed, and should be “up and twirling” soon.

There you have it—a sampling of our work with recent clients. Is there something we can do for you?


  1. New Wind Garden is up and running! Thanks for the help Rich!

  2. Or should I say up and twirling!