Museum Practice Chap 16: ‘Planning for success: Project management for museum exhibitions’ by David K. Dean

In this blog I have been profiling the chapters in my new book Museum Practice which is due out in July.

The two chapters on curatorial theory and practice discussed below lead us naturally to a group of chapters which consider how we should go about developing exhibitions. Though there are as many approaches to this as there are museums, and very strong preferences and subjective assumptions about the ‘best’ way to do a ‘good’ show, the evidence is that exhibition planning is often serendipitous, dis-organised and reactive.

In Chapter 16 David Dean offers a clear and successful model: “Project management for museum exhibitions.” Drawing on many years of developing successful displays, Dean illustrates the efficacy of his model of exhibition production as a planned, phased and staged process through two case studies of diverse exhibitions at Texas Tech University Museum in the US. “If approached without clear focus, with poor organization, and without investing in the proper amount of planning, the outcomes are invariably less successful and often unsatisfying for both the staff and the audience,” he writes. He concludes that “a strong methodology and supportable strategies for conceiving, planning, producing, and presenting exhibitions are required to advance desirable institutional outcomes.”

Figure 1.3_ExDevModel001

David K. Dean, was Director of Information Services at the Museum of Texas Tech University until 2013, and teaches in the graduate-level Museum Science and Heritage Management programs of Texas Tech University. He authored the textbook Museum Exhibition: Theory and Practice (1996) and co-authored The Handbook for Museums (1994).


About mccartco

Conal McCarthy has published widely on the historical and contemporary Māori engagement with museums, including the books Exhibiting Māori: A history of colonial cultures of display (2007) and Museums and Māori: Heritage professionals, indigenous collections, current practice (2011). His new book is Museum practice (2015) in the series International Handbooks of Museum Studies. This edited collection includes chapters on many aspects of current professional work from audience, leadership and policy to collections, exhibitions and conservation. His next book co-authored with Bronwyn Labrum of Massey University will explore history of/in museums.
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