Monday, April 6, 2009

Case Study

case study, denver art museum, maria mortati
Some of my favorite exhibit cases don't feel like a case at all. Case in point, the above display from the Denver Art Museum. I like this example because:
  • case is highly edited, not packed with artifacts too numerous to digest
  • hardware, graphics, stands, etc. are minimal, leaving the focus on the artifacts
  • the lighting is bright, and focused where necessary
  • the placement of the objects is varied, creating interest and placed relative to human scale
Now, not all of us can afford that type of custom casework. So let's look at the key principles that make their system effective, and maybe they can be applied to less costly cases with similar payoff:
Careful editing
The more you can edit the objects to match the message, the better. Do you want to say "Look at the incredible diversity of artifacts from this culture?" or "Can you tell the progression from style A to style D?" and so on. If it doesn't support the story, take it out.
Maximize what you want the visitor to focus on The cases above use the simplest of materials for mounting, displaying, and holding things together. It's also incredibly consistent, which leaves all the focus of variety to the artifacts. See the below detail– they're using a shaft collar on a tube to hold up some of the shelves, and simple, clear plex bases for smaller artifacts:
case study, denver art museumLighting
There is nothing like a good lighting designer. If you can afford one, use them. When you can't, then experiment until you get it right. Lighting 3D objects is tricky business. Whole tomes have been written on the topic.
Embrace drama
Create variety with scale, placement, isolation and orientation. Who says everything has to fit on a grid?

1 comment:

Kate said...

Wow, that exhibit has really changed. When I first saw it, the room was dark and there was a distinct feeling of the objects within it being ones that were hidden, secreted away. In fact, the juxtaposition between the Oceanic Gallery and the exhibits that surrounded it (Andy Warhol, Monet, etc.) created a distinct dichotomy of the "known" vs. the "unknown" that had an unsettling feeling.