Guest Post from Sandy Spring Museum Executive Director Allison Weiss

History Museum meets Reality TV

So we are now officially two months into the three and a half month process of conducting the extreme makeover and we have learned many lessons.

1.       History Museums function much like reality TV.

Apparently both teams have experienced a lot of drama.  This has included a certain amount of fighting, “my way or the highway” impasses, personal life challenges which resulted in some drop-outs, and general parting of the ways for team members who were politely asked to “leave the island.”

2.      Creating museum exhibits is not for the faint of heart.

Many people ask me why the exhibits are not changed on a regular basis.  The answer is simple: it takes a lot of time to do it right.  You need to do research, write text, find artifacts…but first you need to decide what story to tell and how that story can best be conveyed to a museum audience of varying ages, experience, education, interests, and so on.  It’s also very expensive.  Estimates to hire a professional exhibit designer and have the exhibit built are about $300 a square foot!

3.      You can do serious history and still have fun.

Performer Tania Katan, the curator of shenanigans at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, takes the serious subject of high art and turns it on its head (Arm Wrestling for Art, anyone?).  Tania will be the MC when the teams install their Extreme Exhibit Makeovers on March 15 and 16.  The Sandy Spring Museum is committed to doing serious history but, on this occasion, we will do it in a very non-serious way.

I’m on pins and needles waiting for updates from the two teams.  I’m so impressed with how much time they have devoted to the project and how resourceful they have been, cajoling colleagues for donations of supplies and expertise.

Submitted by Allison Weiss, Executive Director, Sandy Spring Museum


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