By Samantha Carr
Anyone who has ever purchased a piece of furniture and then couldn’t fit it through a door in their house knows that how you picture something isn’t always how it turns out.
So on Thursday, a group of curators, exhibit designers and exhibit installers met on the third floor of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to view a mockup of an interactive display that will appear in the One for the Books exhibit opening May 27-28 in Cooperstown.
The process is called prototyping. Essentially, the process includes using a placeholder for a piece of an exhibit to see what it will be like when the real thing arrives. This week, the curators created a panel that was the same shape and size with similar graphics as a new interactive display that will explain top 10 record holders in the exhibit.
“We can have great ideas on paper, but there is no substitute for bringing the ideas to the exhibit space and working out the details,” said Tom Shieber, senior curator at the Baseball Hall of Fame. “We have to make sure that something like this, that is interactive, functions but also attracts people, is useful to the user and for other visitors in the room.”
One for the Books will celebrate the sacred records of baseball and the stories behind them. The exhibit will be the most technologically advanced permanent exhibit in the Museum’s 71-year history. It will feature an interactive visitor experience with multi-media elements and be located on the second floor of the Museum in the Hank Aaron Gallery. For the first time in the Hall of Fame’s history, the Museum is inviting fans to help support an exhibit by honoring their favorite record holder.
Whille the Hall of Fame’s curatorial team prepares for the exhibit opening, design and aesthetic elements are very important. The process of prototyping allows the curators to see how an exhibit will interact with the space, lighting, and shape of the room. For instance, in the case of this interactive, some of the lighting trusses that attach to the ceiling and lights the exhibit will hang too low over the interactive and be in the way. The team will have to remove the grid directly in front or find another solution.
Many times this practice will not change the substance of an exhibit, like the artifact or information in it, but it can change how the artifact is presented. Everything from colors, lighting, shadows and pillars need to be taken into account so that the curators can determine how a visitor will see the exhibit best.
“This is really an easy, early way to get a feel for problems you may encounter in the exhibit,” said John Odell, curator of history and research at the Hall of Fame. “We can look at something on paper, or on a computer, but being in the space makes a big difference.”
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.