Our Exhibition Philosophy
The Museum of Art & History is committed to creating exhibitions that inspire our diverse audiences to engage deeply with contemporary art and Santa Cruz County history. We see our visitors as partners in actively interpreting and exploring exhibition content.
This philosophy steers our work, and it means that we do things a little differently than some other museums and galleries. If you are working with us as an artist or contributor to an exhibition, you should expect that museum staff will create multi-modal, interdisciplinary, participatory, immersive, and social experiences around your work. We will invite you to engage in discussion about these exhibition elements, and if you want to be involved in brainstorming possibilities, that’s fabulous. If not, that’s fine too–but you should know that we will be following this philosophy in all of the exhibitions that we develop.
Museums around the world perform research on how visitors experience exhibitions and how to design them effectively. Research shows that visitors walk in the door with a broad range of preconceptions, abilities, and preferences when it comes to engaging with exhibitions. Some people like to read labels. Others prefer hands-on experiences. Most people visit in groups, and those groups include children and adults, professionals and amateurs. The experience that visitors have in museums–what they learn, what they do, what they like–is highly determined by how comfortable they feel and how well the museum supports many different ways of engaging with exhibitions.
Based on this research and our own institutional vision and goals, we seek to produce exhibitions that are:
- multi-modal, inviting visitors to engage with a range of senses and content formats
- interdisciplinary, encouraging visitors to experience art and history as interrelated topics that provide greater cultural context to one another
- participatory, incorporating visitors’ own creative expression, historical knowledge, and personal stories
- immersive, using narrative design techniques intended to stimulate new ways of experiencing and connecting to content
- social, helping visitors deepen relationships with each other and with museum staff/volunteers
It’s important to us that as an exhibition contributor(s), you are comfortable with and understand this philosophy, and we hope you will find it exciting to be part of it. We strongly believe that these values will help the MAH be a relevant, dynamic, inclusive, educational institution that engages visitors successfully. Please feel free to contact Nina Simon or Susan Leask if you would like to talk about this further.