Hello from the Exhibits Team. My name is Greg Palumbo and I am the Exhibits Manager here at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki. This is my first blog and I have to say I feel like we are off to a good start, introductions are out of the way and we can dig in to what we do to build exhibits. Along with myself, Stephen Ast is our Exhibits Coordinator and the boss around here is Saul Drake our Curator of Exhibits. While we have a structure for the paperwork side of things we really work as a team to develop engrossing exhibits that will make you want to come to the museum and learn something. As a team we develop themes along with the Interpretive Planning Committee for the topic we want to interpret, and we fill the exhibit with the help of the collections staff (whom you heard from in our first blog post, check it out if you missed it).
Ok I skimmed over a lot of stuff there, right? Let’s hit some bullets; Interpretive Planning Committee, that’s a group of people including exhibits, education, outreach, Tribal Members, and collections, which develop themes and storylines for the museum. Our staff’s structure; Saul is at the top as our Curator, he decides what topics we are covering, what needs to be researched, chooses artifacts that will be used, and writes up the text. Under Saul is myself as the Exhibits Manager, I design the physical layout, decide how things will be mounted and protected, create the schedule for install and deinstall, make sure we are falling within our budget on construction costs, and generally make things look good. Under me is Stephen as the Exhibits Coordinator, his responsibilities include assisting me with the install and deinstall of the exhibits, coordinating all of our traveling exhibits both incoming and outgoing, the necessary roll of a graphic designer, and he is in charge of making sure our labels are all correct as well as printing them up. On top of all of that Stephen is also in charge of making sure general maintenance is carried out on all of our exhibits. For a small staff we cover a lot of ground. That was just a quick listing of our responsibilities; there are many more facets to each and a hundred little things in between.
Often times the Exhibits Division, and this is true for many museums, is seen as the more artistic and less pragmatic side of what a museum does. However, over the last several decades the practice of Interpretation has become much more the ability to marry the artistic with the scientific. Our goal is to create an interesting experience for our visitor that engages them and leaves them a little more knowledgeable and a little more likely to take a moment to think about how they are affected from day to day by what they have learned; whether that be correcting misinformation about the Seminole Tribe, or changing something they might do that would impact the Everglades’ ecosystem.
Right now we are working on some really interesting exhibits for the next year. The one I am looking forward to the most is a militaria exhibit focusing on the Seminole Wars. It will be one of the largest and best collections of guns from this period in South Florida. Another one that is coming up quickly is an exhibit of postcards at our Okalee facility. Now if you have been a fan of the museum for a while you will remember an exhibit a few years back called Postcards: Our People Look Back. That exhibit focused on the people who took the photos that would become postcards in the tourist trade. Our new exhibit will be focusing on the topics that the postcards cover and the people in the photographs. It will also have nearly six times more postcards than the old exhibit. In the next week or so I will be working very hard to get the layout set for “Postcards” and we will be settling on a name for the exhibit. If everything goes well the next post from me will be during the install of that exhibit.
Well there you have it, first post from the Exhibit Division, hope you didn’t find it too long winded and that maybe you learned a little about how the stuff you see in a museum gets there, if you didn’t and have questions let me know, and if you thought I was a bag of wind… keep that one to yourself. Sho-na-Bish!