For the past year we’ve been working with the Association of Science – Technology Centers in desiging and developing the ExhibitFiles, a community site for exhibit designers. (The image here is from the CB Radio exhibition which opened in 1978 and is part of the ExhibitFiles).
The concept behind the site is simple, too often the exhibit and exhibition development process isn’t recorded for future designers and developers. As a community, we sometimes redesign the wheel as there is no central place for us to find out about the best (and the worst?) practices in exhibit development. This issue is becoming more urgent as many of the exhibit designers who were active in the 1970s and 1980s are beginning to retire. Over the years, important exhibition development information is lost or stored within a museum where it can’t be easily shared with the larger community.
The ExhibitFiles site will allow any designer or developer to create a profile and to author case studies and reviews about individual exhibits or whole exhibitions. The software is completely custom. We developed it using the Ruby on Rails programming framework. The site has lot’s of interactive features beyond just authoring including the ability to favorite items, commenting, and even a Flash-based “thumbnail maker.” We’ll be adding the site to our portfolio soon with more details. In the meantime, the ExhibitFiles development blog contains lots of information and discussions about the design process.
Along with ASTC, we worked with Independent Exhibits and a great group of advisors. The site is just getting started and we will adding more features–but in the meantime feel free to join up and contribute. We’ll see you in the ExhibitFiles.