History Graduate Students working on this year's SWAT project at the Milton Historic Society.  Students in photos:  Meg Hutchins (pink hair) and Ashley Giordana (animal print sweater)



The Society for American Archaeology presents this article on Producing Affective Exhibits for Archaeology Fairs (pdf) on page 11 of this publication.

This presentation discusses the museum design process. The timeline on the first page is an illustration of the proper steps to take when planning and executing an exhibition. The slides that follow break down each aspect of the timeline into detail.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service in conjunction with Museum on Main Street published this handout, “How to Create an Exhibition.”

The Philadelphia History Museum at Atwater Kent has launched a new community history gallery for use by local not-for-profit groups. The planning toolkit they created and the application form can both be adapted for similar projects in your own organization — or for planning your own in-house exhibits.

This guide for exhibition development (pdf) from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa addresses the key elements of development including planning, writing the narrative, security, design, and evaluation.

This document (pdf) from the Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago focuses on producing small traveling exhibitions for children’s museums, but contains some useful information about the general conditions that borrowing museums expect in terms of supplemental materials, size and weight of components, etc.

Developing small exhibits comes with its own set of challenges. Here’s a brief video to give you some ideas.

Exhibition Labels and Displays

This resource from Museum-Ed “If You Can’t See It Don’t Say It: A New Approach to Interpretive Writing”offers great tips as you reconsider how you are writing interpretive labels for visitors by keeping the message clear and on topic and following this rule: if you can’t see it don’t say it.

The Te Papa National Museum in New Zealand has published this easy-to-read guide to “Writing Effective Interpretive Text.”

The Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Gallery Text at the V&A: A Ten Point Guide” will provide you with tips on how to write gallery text in a way that is engaging and accessible to your audience.

“Getting Visitors’ Attention: Writing Exhibit Labels” offers twelve rules to keep in mind when writing labels, from putting yourself in the visitor’s shoes to proofreading.

Metroframe is a manufacturer and distributor of framing supplies for museums and galleries.  This section of the company website contains videos and short articles with illustrations demonstrating framing techniques and offering advice on how to frame museum objects.

On a budget? Check out this video about how to make quality, low-priced exhibition displays.


The Smithsonian Institute published this guide to installing and dismantling your exhibits. (pdf)

Traveling Exhibitions

Learn more about the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service, which develops exhibitions and lends them to small museums across the United States.

Here is a short article on the nuts and bolts of developing a traveling exhibition.

This article focuses on developing traveling exhibitions for small communities.


The Family Learning project at the USS Constitution Museum in Boston features select articles that are specific to exhibition evaluation.

Research 101″ provides an overview from the audience evaluation firm Slover-Linett.  While this site is not keyed to exhibitions, it is a helpful overall discussion of qualitative and quantitative evaluation models.

Generated at the 2006 AAM annual meeting, “Visitor Studies 101: Understanding Audiences” (pdf) provides a good summary of what museums should think about when considering any evaluation project and a useful bibliography of additional resources.


A key question all museum professionals should ask if why visitors choose their museum over others? This webinar “What is Visitors Count?” from AASLH should give you some insights into possible answers.