"The chance to create a long-term exhibit for a major Seattle Foundation was too good an opportunity to pass up! From being given freedom to design our own exhibit to the difficulties that accompany installation, I had an enjoyable, and challenging, learning."
The Seattle Center Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the enjoyable atmosphere found at Seattle Center, wished to create an exhibit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair that would remain open for two years. The exhibit is housed in a small space in Seattle Center’s Center House. Previously, the Century 21 World’s Fair Gallery, the official title for the exhibit space, consisted solely of a window display and a slideshow of World’s Fair memories. Another museology student and I had freedom to design the exhibit however we wished with two small exceptions. First, there was to be a place somewhere within the exhibit that would allow visitors to add their own fair experiences. Second, there was to be a place for selling.
The responsibilities included in the Seattle Center Foundation internship were immense. Not only did we have to design the layout of the exhibit, we needed to find the collection itself. An Ebay account was established, we set to work searching for 1962 World’s Fair memorabilia. Once the collection was established, we wrote the text for and designed the banners that serve as text panels in the exhibit. One of the largest challenges facing us was finding cases for the exhibit. We finally found some that fit our design concept at IKEA. … Labels were written, lighting adjusted, and wall decorations hung. On April 21st, the 48th anniversary of the World’s Fair opening, our exhibit opened its doors.
Over the past two quarters, I have actively pursued courses that would further my knowledge of exhibit design. Judy Rand’s “Planning for People in Exhibits” and Wilson O’Donnell’s “Seminar in Museum Exhibition” were excellent resources for this project. As someone wishing to pursue a career in Exhibit Design, this combination of course work and hands-on internship experience is amazing preparation. … I wanted to increase my knowledge of how exhibits were designed and installed, as well as to improve my ability to write effective, clear labels. This internship provided the perfect environment to work on all these skills. … Also, since we were the sole designers of the exhibit, the hands-on experience offered by this internship was invaluable. … Working with the Foundation directly allowed us access to some amazing artifacts. Without this access, it is unlikely we would have been able to include the original Alweg Monorail sign and console in the exhibit.
With the exhibit remaining open to the public for two years, Foundation officials have already expressed an interest in “freshening ip” the exhibit next winter. Despite the numerous challenges experienced, I would gladly return to this exhibit or recommend such an internship to anyone interested in intensively hands-on exhibit design practice. Having worked with the Foundation once already, I am certain that, in the future, I will be better prepared to handle the added difficulties that accompany such internships. Through this internship, I feel I have strengthened my skills as an exhibit designer and helped increase my marketability when searching for jobs in the future.