While discussing a recent project I was asked to give “an insider’s peek into how a museum exhibit goes from concept to an interactive display”.
Well, it is like a cooking show but in reverse. Instead of starting with a list of ingredients and a recipe, we start with a picture of the completed dish. It usually takes several meetings with the designer and the client before we figure out how the dish will taste.
Once the “taste”, or guest experience, is hammered down we spend time researching the ingredients that will go into making the exhibit. (We actually even call this our “test kitchen” phase.) Like cooking for a friend with an allergy, we are extremely careful to choose vendors and materials that will stand up to the specific needs of the environment in which it will be installed. In the case of the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium the “allergy” was salt water. Every component of every exhibit was chosen for its ability to stand up to the ravages of salt water.
With the ingredients selected, we begin to crack the recipe with detailed construction drawings. Construction drawings are literally the blueprint of how we are going to put together an exhibit. During their creation we are asking ourselves difficult questions and solving problems before they have a chance to surprise us in the field.
Once completed, the drawings are handed off to our master chefs/carpenters who build the exhibits in our Orlando shop. For an exhibit that relies on complex technology we will schedule a few days of testing. Occasionally we will even invite friends and family in for some of the “taste testing”. When everyone is satisfied with the look and taste of the final product, we deliver the masterpiece to the museum.