Structure of A Museum Exhibit

Structure of A Museum Exhibit

The Beginning

Opening

In your museum exhibit teams, view the online exhibit about Alice Cunningham Fletcher’s time with the Sioux and consider the idea of flow and cohesion in storytelling.

A good exhibit, like a story, has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

  • The beginning draws the audience in and sets the theme and purpose of the exhibit.
  • The middle contains the information and perspectives that make up the main body of the exhibit.
  • The ending sums up the exhibit’s purpose and leaves the reader considering the important issues that the exhibit raises.

Look at the beginning of the exhibit together and note how it uses the “Foreword” section to set the scene. In the space of a single paragraph, it lets you know what part of history you’re in, where in the world you are, and who the major characters will be. It even gives you some hints as to the exhibit’s purpose.

Now evaluate the strength of the exhibit’s beginning. With your group, make notes on the following questions:

  • What did the creators do to introduce the exhibit?
  • Does the exhibit engage and orient the audience by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and establishing one or multiple point(s) of view?
    • How does it accomplish that or fail to do so?
  • What artifacts—if any—are involved in creating the beginning of the exhibit?

Open Notebook

Share your ideas with the full class.

The Middle

Work Time

In your museum exhibit teams, look at the main body of the exhibit and its artifacts. Once the audience is drawn in, you have the middle—the meat—of the story.

The middle contains the bulk of the information of an exhibit and most of its artifacts. It offers the exhibit creator a chance to show the audience the key information and perspectives of the piece of history the exhibit is meant to share.

One of the most important aspects of the middle is cohesion. All of the pieces need to fit together in a story that makes sense to the reader, and all of the pieces need to have a clear relationship to the central theme and purpose of the exhibit.

With your group, discuss the following questions and jot down notes on each one.

  • What storytelling techniques does the exhibit use to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole?
    • How does it accomplish that or fail to do so?
  • Does the exhibit use precise language, well-chosen details, and interesting visuals in order to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and people involved?
    • How does it accomplish that or fail to do so?
    • Find at least two examples from the exhibit to support your point.
  • How will you create a clear progression and structure in your own exhibit?

Open Notebook

The Ending

Work Time

Before moving on to independent work, look at the exhibit’s ending. An ending isn’t always a specific point that you lead a reader or audience to.

However it’s structured, though, the ending needs to leave the audience with a sense of the exhibit’s purpose.

In your groups, discuss the following questions and take notes on your responses.

  • What does this exhibit do to sum up its purpose and leave the reader considering the important issues that it raises?
  • What will you do in your own exhibit to give it a strong ending?

Open Notebook

Work Plan 3

Work Time

Before you begin work, take 5 minutes to glance at the options in the next task and write a plan about what you will do during the work session in this lesson.

As you did in previous lessons, make notes on the following questions.

  • Will you work together with other students? Who?
  • What do you plan to accomplish in the work session?
  • What do you think will be the hardest element of the tasks you’re setting for yourself? Why?
  • What do you think will be the easiest element of the tasks you’re setting for yourself? Why?

Open Notebook

Share your plan with your teacher.

Group Exhibit Work

Work Time

You can use the independent work time in whatever way your group feels is best, but don’t forget that you will have to share your first artifact and its accompanying placard text with your teacher during the next lesson. Here are a few options.

  • You will have one more annotated article due in a few lessons, so you can use the Independent Research Workflow to develop your understanding of the source’s credibility and argument.
  • If you have Internet connectivity, you could explore more museum exhibits to expand your understanding of theme, hook artifacts, and storytelling techniques.
  • You could also find artifacts for your exhibit, plan your exhibit’s structure, write placards for artifacts, or engage in other activities to develop an excellent exhibit. If you haven’t spent much time on artifacts yet, you may wish to choose this option today, since one artifact and its accompanying placard text will be due in the next lesson.

Open Notebook

Regardless of what you work on, be sure to coordinate carefully with your group.

Exhibit Status Update 3

Closing

Before the lesson ends, assess your work for the day by answering these questions.

  • Whom did you work with?
  • What did you accomplish during the work session?
  • How accurate was your plan?
    • If you had to adapt and do something other than what you planned, why did you change your plans?
  • What turned out to be the easiest part? Why?
  • What turned out to be the hardest part? Why?
  • What is your top priority for the next work session?

Open Notebook

When you finish, share your answers with your teacher.

Independent Exhibit Work

Homework

  • Work on any part of your exhibit that is best accomplished outside of class, such as taking photos, conducting interviews, or creating artwork.
  • You’ll submit one artifact and its accompanying placard text in the next lesson, so finish whatever you need before then.