ABOVE: Photo credit, Jessica Kuczaj, Manager of Arts Events and Publicity at Wheaton
It’s Elemental: Water is the title of ARTH 335: Exhibition Design’s new student-run exhibition on display from now until February 22, 2017 in the Beard and Weil Galleries at Wheaton College (MA). As a part of the course, Professor Leah Niederstadt, Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, had the class compete for the best exhibition design by splitting us into three teams. My team, “Winnecunnet” (named after a body of water near Wheaton) chose to celebrate water in its diverse forms. By dividing the exhibition into four themes – water and Wheaton; water and nature; water and self; and water and society – our group aimed to highlight water as a constantly changing element. Our team’s hope was to spark dialog with visitors as to how much water is utilized in our daily lives, and thus, our ultimate goal was to shed light onto issues of water scarcity, as droughts, floods, and other natural disasters increase each year.
Our four theme sections are modeled after the four themes of literary conflict: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. self, and man vs. society. These four literary conflicts drive the narrative of a text, similar to how our four themes aim to narrate our exhibition. Just as a protagonist faces conflict with many opposing forces, water, too, is always in a dialectal relationship with humanity, society, nature, and the college itself.
In order to help the viewer travel from section to section, our group decided to implement two poems, “Sea and Sky” by Lucy Larcom, a Prof. of English at Wheaton during the 19th century and “Water” by Emerson. The Larcom poem remains in the water and Wheaton section, however, the Emerson poem has been divided into the remaining three sections as to help guide the viewer around the exhibition.
Team Winnecunnet won the juried design competition. Below are examples of our layout, thematic section texts, introductory texts, overall flow of the exhibition, logographic material, and interactive components to engage our visitors.
Charlotte Hall ’17, Rebecca Maitland ’17, Abby Landers ’18, and myself all worked tirelessly on this design.
BELOW: Mission Statement, Example of Intro Text, and Example of Thematic Text (Water and Self)
BELOW: Interactive wall texts with schematics of interactive activities.
BELOW: Flow layout
BELOW: Example of an object label text from the water and self theme section