Why “Thinking about exhibits”?

In a perfect world, I would’ve gotten this post out first, but the exhibits that I’ve seen in the past month were so compelling, in both good and bad ways, that writing this took a back seat.

I never had any training on how or why to make exhibits. I apprenticed, watched my mentors and more experienced colleagues, and picked it up as I went along, sometimes just barely fast enough.  As a result, I’ve often labored after the fact to put a theoretical underpinning beneath my work, and to figure out what lessons learned are applicable to more than the project at hand.  Often this would manifest itself as me talking to myself (literally) on my daily commute, or sitting at my computer typing furiously in between “real” work.  Reflecting on my own work and priorities has been enormously helpful.  And thanks to Bluetooth headsets, I no longer look like a crazy man, muttering to himself.

I have been nourished over the years by colleagues and role models too numerous to mention. In meetings, at conferences, and in more informal venues, I’ve had long discussions and debates about the hows and whys of informal education and how it relates to making things and putting them on display in museums.  I’ve read most of the literature and benefited from what I’ve found there, though I’m always amazed at how little of it is written from a practitioner’s perspective.

In the end, I’ve finally embraced the reality that we are responsible for our own learning. Constructivists believe that we create our own meaning from our experiences.  Whatever your pedagogical leanings, chances are once you’re working in the field, you will have to take charge of putting yourself in situations where you can learn. Whether it’s reading books, writing, reflecting, sharing what you’ve learned.  A reflective practitioner will make new meaning out of their experience.

This blog is a result of my own need to reflect and it is offered to you as a tool for you to reflect on what we do and how.  I look forward to seeing what you make of it