The Eccentric and Unexpected in Museum Exhibits
I’m writing a short article for the Association of Children’s Museum journal “Hand to Hand” on the role of the eccentric and unexpected as an under-appreciated aspect of great exhibits. A lot of times, we (as in, I) get too serious and earnest about our endeavors, losing a feeling of spark. So, what examples are out there?
Ask anyone in the business whose been going to AAM/NAME for a few years what museums stand out, and The City Museum in St. Louis is sure to come up. The whole building is a massive art work, with multilevel concrete caverns to climb through (and more recently, structures to climb). It’s the only museum where I ripped my pants in an exhibit. One of my favorite exhibit labels of all time comes from their exhibit “Corndog Mysticism” (see my blurry photo below taken a decade or so ago).
Many people mention the Museum of Jurassic Technology, though I’ve never been there. The American Visionary Art Museum is wonderful, one of my favorites, and I’m remembering an exhibit of art created by people conveying their alien abduction experiences. Impossible not to engage with this. Thinking also of Clifford Wagner’s timelapse installation shot over a year, showing changing seasons outside and hair growing on his shaved head shot in the middle of an indoor garden.
As I look for material for my article, what else is out there? Have you seen the unusual, unexpected, or eccentric used well in a more traditional exhibit?