Works in Progress

I spent most of this week on the road with colleagues working on exhibit plans at the Pennsylvania Military Museum and the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Since I didn’t write a Trailheads post ahead of time (which, believe it or not, I sometimes manage to do), that’s what I’m writing about.

Major exhibits, as you probably know or can guess, require a tremendous team effort to pull off. Funding for new long-term exhibits is allocated carefully and slowly on the Trails of History and most sites end up raising additional funds to supplement state dollars. It usually takes at least several years from the time planning begins to the time a new exhibit opens. The work is a collaboration between site staff and volunteers, staff from the central office (“we’re from Harrisburg, and we’re here to help”), and outside professionals in exhibit design and fabrication. (I’m one of those “helpful” Harrisburgers, on the off chance that you’re wondering.)

Our latest two projects in the hopper, as I mentioned above, are at the Military Museum and the Lumber Museum. In both cases, we’ve been planning, discussing, thinking on, obsessing over, and worrying about these exhibits for quite some time, as various funding scenarios lined up. We’re at slightly different stages of work, but rest assured that the staff and volunteers at both museums are ready to get on with it.

Bubble diagrams help work out overall space allocation prior to design

At Military, we’re continuing to hash out the best ways to organize a century of Pennsylvania military history (or to be more exact, over a century of Pennsylvanians’ military service) and share it with members of the public, who bring a wide range of experience and interest to their museum visit. So the designers are working with us on different possibilities for using the gallery space (called “bubble diagrams”).

Conceptual designs for Lumber based on previous discussion and review

The design at Lumber is a little further along, so we’re beginning to zero in on defining the exhibit layout and specific elements. But there’s still a lot of work to do deciding how to tell all the stories that need to be told.

Creativity is often aided by sugar and caffeine--we were amply supplied at Lumber

As we continue moving forward with these and other exhibit projects, I’ll try to share some of the behind-the-scenes work. It’s hard to convey the extraordinary amount of energy and attention these projects require of our staff, but I’ll try.


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