Back to School

August 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Look Ma!

I got to revert back to being a student last weekend, and even though it was only for two days, it was pretty awesome.

This is a description of the class I took:

And here's the building I took it in

This two-day course presents an in-depth study of the components that make a successful museum exhibition, whether permanent or temporary.  Topics covered will include:  concept, research, conversation, publications, design, lighting, budget, loans, advertising, sponsorship, education and visitor satisfaction.  Speakers representing a range of specialists in the field will provide commentary.  This course may be taken as a supplement to Northwestern University’s Museum Studies Certificate Program or as a stand-alone experience for museum professionals and those who are interested in furthering their knowledge of the exhibit process.

Yes, it was awesome.  It was even more awesome because it was on the downtown campus and so not only did I get to miss out on a day of work but I got to eat my lunch right by the lake as I tried to figure out if I know anyone who will take me out on a boat.

Anyway, classes Friday started with a bang.  Our class consisted of about 10 other ladies and myself; most of the others had some sort of profession dealing with museums, while a few were like me and hoping to go that route.  I was by far the youngest but they were all really nice and didn’t throw me out because I was born in a different decade.  Our first

Nice, huh?

speaker was probably my favorite, as it was a woman who works on temporary exhibits at The Field Museum.  She spoke for a while and I was completely captivated.  She pretty much has my dream job and I’ve been working on an email to her to ask for further advise.  After the lecture, we took a walk and toured The McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum.  Don’t know what that is?  Yeah, neither did we (and it worked to highlight a point about getting your museum’s name out to the public).  I actually walked right by it about four times before figuring out how to get in.

The Bridgehouse Museum is located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, so thousands (if not more) of people walk by it every day.  You have to enter via the Riverwalk so it’s kind of tucked away, but for $4 a ticket it’s more than worth it.  The museum starts below ground and you can walk out and see all of the massive gears that raise the Chicago River bridge, which is pretty nifty.  The history of the Chicago River is told on the next few floors and by the time you get to the top you’re treated to a pretty sweet view.

After our field trip, we worked on a project designing the floor plan and layout of a local history museum and then we listened to our professor lecture a bit more.  She put together a whole exhibit on Victorian dresses for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC a few years ago so we were treated to the ins and outs of that, and we also heard about the problems and issues she faced while putting it all together.  On Saturday we had a few more guest speakers and they talked about everything from funding an exhibit to the different kinds of lighting options available.  We watched a few short videos and had a group discussion on the importance of being honest in an exhibit as well as what the main purpose of museums should be and what exactly they owe to the public.

I enjoyed it all.

I’m also seriously considering taking three 10-week courses to get a certificate in Museum Studies.  Unfortunately, I don’t think my work schedule will allow me to do this (they pitch a fit when I try to leave five minutes early so I can catch the express train which saves me 40 minutes on my commute).  In fact, I just got a written reprimand for going 15 minutes over on my last pay period, because I was dealing with clients one day and unable to get away for a full hour lunch.  Did I mention I wouldn’t mind finding another job?  One that allows me to actually work downtown and get to a once a week course in time to take it?  That would be nice.

One day, ladies and gents…one day.


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