Designing the Ultimate Exhibit

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It's the age old question....how do you design an exhibit on a budget that appeals to both adults and children while educating them about a subject?

Well I'm having my first go at answering it. At my current internship at the Cambridge History Room in the Cambridge Public Library, I am taking the materials and knowledge I have gathered from my processing of the John Langstaff collection and trying to turn it into something that will interest and engage the public. The biggest issue is that most of Langstaff's collection is paperwork (largely unreadable paperwork I might add) and his greatest contribution to the area is in theater and music, both things that are difficult to showcase in the middle of a library on a budget.

But considering that I did a conference presentation on integrating archives in museums via technology, I am not ready to give up yet. I have been able to create QR codes to link to some wonderful video clips of Langstaff and his performances. However, not everyone has a smart phone and unless you have headphones....some patrons might become annoyed that I have linked to music...

There were some small portions of the longer videos I thought were exemplary instances of Langstaff's enthusiastic performances, but realized that the patrons would probably not want to watch the entire nine minute clip for 2 seconds. I decided to try making gifs of these few seconds since it was the movements rather than the audio that was important. I had never made gifs before and I think I was successful for my first attempt but now I wonder if it is worth linking to a 2 second clip.

I'm also trying to see how I can engage children. Langstaff wrote a wonderful selection of children's books and one in particular has lovely woodcuts that would make for good coloring pages but I am not sure the copyright ethics of copying those pages to provide for the children. And...would it just be a waste of paper?

In my utopian vision I would want to do a whole Christmas in July event since most of Langstaff's materials are associated with Christmas and the Winter Solstice but that does not fit into the time or money constraints of this internship. So, I must work with what I've got, but it is quite a lot of material. I hope I can find a creative way to use it. Perhaps I will follow Langstaff's instructions from the collection and make my own shin pads of bells to wear as a Morris dancer. 

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