Museum Exhibition Highlights 2010

News and exhibition reviews from the capital

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Library of Congress Experience

If you haven't been to the Library of Congress in awhile, you might notice some changes. Upon entering the library, visitors can watch a narrated visual presentation of the library's collections on a multi-screen media display.

The Library of Congress has also added several interactive monitors throughout The Great Hall and exhibition spaces, which allow visitors to search the collections, explore the space around them, go on a quest for hidden treasures or build their own electronic collection using a "Passport to Knowledge," which can be picked up at the visitor's desk.

The Passport to Knowledge program has been a huge success. Not only does the booklet allow visitors to build their own collections, which can then be accessed on from home, but the document also includes a pull-out map, detailed exhibition information and a page where visitors can get their passport stamped to mark their visit.

Before you leave, be sure to visit the remarkable Gutenberg and Mainz Bibles, which mark the end of the handwritten book. In keeping with the progression of technology, check out the neighboring interactives, which allow you to explore digital pages from these books.

The Library of Congress has created a unique experience through the Library of Congress Experience initiative.

Check out the Library of Congress website for more information.

Photograph by M. Southwood

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MuseumTrekker Announces New Social Network for Emerging Museum Professionals

It was announced on the MuseumTrekker Twitter page today that a new social network for Emerging Museum Professionals will be launched on April 7th. In response to the growing popularity of the Twitter page, the network will provide a forum for EMPs to network with other museum professionals around the world and engage in dialogue about the rapidly-changing museum field.

Members of the new social network will be able to join a number of discussion groups related to their profession and interests. Members are also encouraged to share photographs, videos and current research. The network blog will provide EMPs with the opportunity to publish their research and to develop a voice in the museum community.

Museum students, professors, post-graduates and professionals are encouraged to join. The network website address will be announced here, on the MuseumTrekker Twitter page and on the new MuseumTrekker Facebook page on April 7th, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Elvis! to arrive in DC on March 19th

In celebration of Elvis’ 75th birthday, the Newseum in DC will open its newest temporary exhibition, Elvis! His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story.

The exhibition will feature rare photographs & printed media and several of the singer’s personal effects, which include one of his iconic jumpsuits, a belt encrusted with gold and diamonds, and even his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Also currently on exhibit at the museum:

Ted Polumbaum Photo Collection

Manhunt: Chasing Lincoln’s Killer

Inside Tim Russert’s Office

G-Men and Journalists

For more information, check out the Newseum website.

photograph from the Newseum website

Terra Cotta Warriors to depart DC at the end of the month

The Terra Cotta Warriors exhibition currently on view at the National Geographic Museum in DC will be closing on March 31st.

Check the official museum site for exhibition information.

photograph from the National Geographic website

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins to open at the National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will celebrate its 100th anniversary on the National Mall on March 17th with the opening of its newest exhibition, the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.

Visitors will be able to explore displays depicting early life, milestones in human evolutionary history, snapshots of early survival, an extensive human family tree and research stations depicting the latest research from scientists in the Smithsonian Human Origins Program. The 15,000-square-foot exhibition is the result of an international collaboration with over 60 research and educational organizations and over 100 researchers from around the world.

Watch Dr. Rick Potts discuss the new exhibition or learn more about the exhibition and current research on the museum website.

photograph from the National Museum of Natural History website

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Children Learn about Art at the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is committed to making art accessible to children through film, storytelling, performances and hands-on studio workshops. Through the NGA Kids Program, children from age 6 and up can attend programs aimed at fostering a better understanding of artwork through fun activities.

Bonnie Tomlinson and her 7 year-old daughter, Gilly (pictured), are regular participants in the Stories in Art program, which follows a storybook familiar to most children and examines how it translates to an actual piece of artwork in the museum galleries. This month the program highlighted an abstract painting by artist Gerhard Richter and the book Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni. After having a chance to discuss the book and view the piece, Gilly and several other children created their own artwork using the same artistic style as Richter.

All of the NGA Kids programs run on Sunday afternoons. To download the quarterly NGA Kids Program calendar or to find fun on-line games and activities for your little one, check out the NGA Kids website.

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Tomlinson.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Media Creates Flow in the Sant Ocean Hall at the Museum of Natural History

The Sant Ocean Hall is the newest and largest permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Although the exhibition opened in September 2008, and has already been the topic of many reviews, it is worth taking another look at what has made it so successful.

Visitors to the Sant Ocean Hall are treated to an immersion experience through all of the senses. As you walk through the vast gallery, you take a tour through a thousand colors. Ocean blue-colored display cases are filled with colorful models, fossils and specimens. A large-scale model of a Right Whale seems to swim over your head as you hear various sounds of the ocean. As you walk through the exhibit, you feel a sense of life. A sense of movement flows from one display to the next and feel as though you have become a part of an aquatic environment.

This sense of movement is created by ingeniously placed media displays throughout the exhibition. Ten large screens showcasing scenes of oceanic life surround the top of the exhibit, making the visitor feel as though they are in the deep ocean surrounded by the dynamic creatures featured in the exhibit. Several video screens placed inside or alongside display cases, showcase aquatic animals featured in their natural habitats. The resulting effect is a visitor “experience” rather than simply a tour of the museum’s oceanic collections.

Additional interactive displays allow visitors to watch scientists discuss their oceanic research or to find out more about various aquatic animals. But, don’t worry parents, you won’t be trying to pry your children away from interactives that are more like computer games. Rest assured, your children will simply enjoy the experience as you will. And if you are looking for more to do, you can also watch a film in the Deep Ocean Exploration Theater. But, the highlight of the exhibition is the Global Ocean Systems Gallery, which features a global sphere displaying various oceanic processes throughout the planet. It will keep visitors of all ages enthralled.

In a time when museums are often trying to keep up with media trends such as podcasts and cell phone tours (which are sometimes creating technology solely for technology’s sake) I am still amazed when media can be so effective in taking a visitor “out of the museum” and “into the experience.” The mark of success is when the media is so effective in creating an atmosphere, that one doesn’t even realize it is there. The Sant Ocean Hall truly delivers on all accounts and is a must see exhibition if you are in the DC area.

More information about the exhibition, as well as videos that appear in the exhibit and talks with exhibition team members, can be found on the Sant Ocean Hall website.