Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Hello everyone!
I hope that you all got back to work after a long and peaceful holiday. I´m starting my blogging this autumn with a report written by Swedish pedagogue and author Pia Cederholm, originally published on Exhibition Aesthetical Forum, a Swedish website consigned to articles on the exhibition media.

Her report is about a lecture at École du Louvre in Paris given by Colette Dufresne-Tassé this spring.

Colette Dufresne-Tassé is a Canadian professor and resigning chairman of the international ICOM committe CECA. She heads a research team at the University in Montréal which with different methods are trying to find out what happens in the meeting between the visitor and the exhibition. The purpose being to use the results of their research to develop the exhibition media.In her lecture Mrs Dufresne-Tassé gave a lot of advice. From these Pia Cederholm has put together "10 commandments for a successful exhibition". Unfortunately her blog is in Swedish so I have translated her report and also shortened it a bit.

1. Thou shall only have one message.
Coherence is the lead word. Choose a theme and stick to it no matter how tempting it is to add less relevant side tracks.

2. Thou shall find your angel between the familiar and the new.
You do this by adressing both the visitor´s prior knowledge and their curiosity at the same time.

3. Thou shall create opportunities for meaningful experiences.
Have the visitor´s perspective for your eyes so that your lust to experiment with exhibition design or researching a complex area doesn´t make the final result incomprehensible to amateurs.

4. Thou shall do everything in your power in order to make it easy for the visitor to learn.
This is done by approaching the exhibition like a puzzle: Start with the frame and the corner pieces. Use artefacts to help the visitor to fill in the missing pieces, to draw their own conclusions. Remind yourself that the visitors aren´t there to read, that can be done in a book.

5. Thou shall create environments that captures the interest of the visitor.
The scenography, or in french "la muséographie", determines how the visitor will understand the artefacts. This is why you have to think through how settings and cabinets correspond and that in three different layers: practically, aesthetically and semantically.

6. Thou shall not begrudge the visitor to be physically active.
Place and present the artefacts in order for the visitor to be lured into freeing their fantasy to reach further in their meaning making.

7. Thou shall not demand the visitor to be physically active.
The intellectual effort is enough. If the exhibition requires the visitor to climb around pulling ropes in order to get to knowledge they will give up.

8.Thou shall lead the visitor´s thoughts towards the object.
When you have made the visitor to stop, seriously widening her or his senses, observing, reading and reflecting, you must see to that there is more to find out. This way the visitor gets paid for the effort and won´t float away in other thoughts.

9. Thou shall understand the difference betwen permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Then you can make use of their different prerequisites. The temporary exhibition attracts the audience by it´s uniqueness, a "on-time-only" opportunity and a whole context to dive into. The permanent exhibition attracts with order and being systematically arranged.

10. Thou shall not be boring.
To visit a museum shall be an experience beyond the ordinary. Therefor you have to pull the visitor out of her or his normal reality. Open the gate to an unknown world which is unknown and different.

What do you think? Please comment!


The "10 commandments for a succesful exhibition" was translated by Göran Björnberg from Pia Cederholm´s original text which can be found here