Current Special Exhibition

Have you ever wondered how objects get arranged in an exhibition? Why are some objects grouped together and others spread out across the gallery? Who makes these decisions, and why?

Virtual Tour Available

April 4 – July 30, 2020

History tells us that conventions for exhibition arrangements have changed over time, as styles come and go. Meta tells some of this behind-the-scenes story. 

Museums are public spaces that reflect societal standards and aesthetic preferences of a given cultural society. Within museums, exhibition styles communicate insight into this as well. Meta offers a glimpse into four of the most influential and creative exhibition styles from years past: Cabinet of Curiosities, Salon Style, Partial Context, and White Cube. Within these four particular design styles, we seek to show how styles and expectations of museum display have changed, remained, and morphed over time to communicate different messages to the public.

In demonstrating these different formats, it becomes clear why one form might be more appropriate in some displays than in others. We can thus look into these differing museum forms to understand how the design and curation of exhibitions communicate different but important messages to the viewer; and how the viewer responds, shapes, and plays an active role in interpreting and dissecting the received messages. Meta invites viewers into the process of arranging an exhibition, to see how and why these decisions are made.  

From the curators…

As senior Art History and Communication Arts students, we have co-curated Meta: an Exhibition about Exhibitions for our senior seminar project. Given that we are both interested in pursuing careers in the museum world, it has been a fabulous opportunity working closely with the design team and staff at Kauffman Museum to curate a relevant and well-done exhibition.

Special thanks goes to Museum Technician, David Kreider, who acted as our point person and offered endless support and guidance from years of experience with Kauffman Museum. Thanks to Curator of Exhibitions, Chuck Regier, and Exhibition Assistant, Rebecca Schrag, for aiding us in developing the aesthetics and graphic design elements within the exhibition; and thanks to Acting Director, Andi Schmidt Andres for helping us with the logistics of the public programming and promotion. Special thanks to museum volunteers, Rachel Pannabecker and Phil Koontz for their assistance in the project.

Lastly, great thanks to our advocate, supporter, professor, and advisor, Dr. Rachel Epp Buller for always being more than willing to offer her time and energy to help us accomplish our goals. It takes a village!

–Elizabeth Friesen Birkey, Art History and Communications Major; Emma Girton, Art History Major and Communications Minor

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