The Exhibition Experience: Design and Interpretation

The special exhibition, where objects are grouped together for a limited time for a particular purpose, has become a key component of the contemporary museum experience. But in a larger sense all exhibitions, whether temporary or permanent, tell stories, communicate meaning, and establish values by presenting objects and ideas in ways that are always mediated by design. This course will use the upcoming Bard Graduate Center/ Metropolitan Museum collaborative exhibition “Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” which will open on April 3, 2013, as a case study through which to examine the ways exhibition curators and designers construct historical and didactic narratives by juxtaposing selected objects, texts, and digital images. Since one of the challenges of the Hoentschel project has been to track the changing ways that furniture and domestic objects have been used and displayed over their history, we will give particular focus to current strategies of exhibiting furniture and furnishings in museum period rooms and historic properties. Classes will be led by exhibition curators Ulrich Leben and Deborah Krohn, with guest appearances by other BGC staff involved in the show. Classes will take place at BGC, with field trips to local collections. Assignments will include the preparation of a “mock exhibition,” including interpretive components, using Google SketchUp, on a topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructors. 3 credits.