Jacksonville by Design

Perhaps you’ve heard of this exhibit at MOSH downtown? I helped with layout of the Era 4 (1945-1950, post WWII) room. This is the first exhibit I’ve been a part of, although I have been thinking about them for a while. I have a friend who works for Ralph Applebaum in New York, on exhibit design. I talked with him about exhibit design guidelines and was informed that there are actually Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design (among others). They prescribe many critical factors of the exhibit experience such as circulation, lighting, signage, and are geared towards making an exhibit understandable for a wide range of people. (Think of perceptive differences, physiological and mobility differences, and different age museum-goers.) What guidelines of any sort don’t really discuss is the conceptual framework that goes into an exhibit or any design for that matter. That’s a subject for another time. Something that has always interested me about exhibits is: did I just leave understanding what they wanted me to understand? In other words, how much of the curated content is the user experiencing as intended? My somewhat educated guess is very little. I know I have been to exhibits that are absolutely daunting in their scale. I remember one in Genoa Italy that took me about 2 hours to get halfway through! There were just too many fascinating architectural drawings and models to not get mentally lost in ideas. So when a colleague and I were laying out Era 4, one of our editing guidelines was considering the user. At Era 4 you are about halfway through our exhibit, and we don’t want you to fall over exhausted. This kind of empathetic consideration is critical in many exhibits, where it’s easy to get museum fatigue. Museums love this, of course, because you can then conveniently refuel in their cafe and gift shop. And if I had an entire day to lavish on one particular museum that would be incredible. I haven’t done that in years. All this to say, Jacksonville By Design intends (by my earnest estimation) to educate and perhaps inspire Jacksonvillians as to their architectural heritage. We’re not talking about styles, really, but rather, about the social and economic forces and circumstances that have created architectural responses more or less appropriate to their time. I was fortunate to work on the 1945-50 era, since I am fascinated by post-war production and fabrication and believe it has influenced much of what we see in our current suburban America.

But you are free to disagree. If you go and have opinions, I welcome them here. So I encourage you to attend the Jacksonville By Design exhibit at the MOSH from Nov 3 2012 to Sept 2013 in the Loft Gallery

Using Format