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.”
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).