Approach for exhibition development

Approach for exhibition development

An article about our approach and different design stages that we use in exhibition development

The following stage descriptions are excerpts taken from a previously published article written at the request of Museumpeil, a magazine for museum employees.

Our agency divides the entire process, from the start of the project until the exhibition opens, into a number of stages. We only start with a certain stage after completing the previous stage. We incorporate commentary on the previous stage.

We distinguish the following stages:

  • Concept design
  • Preliminary design
  • Definitive design
  • Production coordination

Concept Design

“What kind of theme is appropriate and what should it look like?”

In this stage we examine what kind of theme is appropriate. A rough picture of the possible character of the exhibition will take shape in this process. The required contents are supplied by the client. The nature of the content is determined in consultation with the client. Consultation and information supply are of vital importance in this stage. We compare our ideas with the client’s ideas using scaled models and atmospheric impressions. We roughly estimate the execution costs in this stage based on figures from previous projects. The concept stage usually lasts about two months.

The theme examination process will be shorter than usual if a competition is part of the concept. This loss will be compensated for during the next stage, on the understanding that the project is assigned.

Preliminary Design

“What is it going to look like and how will it function?”

After we reach an agreement with the client about the exhibition, the ideas will be further developed through drafts and drawings that will include all primary measurements. The exhibition will be divided into smaller parts during the preliminary design stage. In preparation for the job instruction, all separate parts are assigned a number. Consequently, all parts can be developed separately. We then draw up a list of who, and when, delivers the content, object, picture or text.

We check every separate part of the exhibition to see if it meets the concept and the intended experience. What was it again that we intended to do? Alterations are still easy to make during this stage.

During this stage we also base the costs on figures from previous projects. However, these estimates will be more accurate and further itemised. The preliminary design stage will last two to five months.

Definitive Design

“How can the project be executed?”

No further alterations will be made to the design during this stage. Technical drawings and/or specifications are made for all parts. If the exhibition involves software, we will develop the concept into a rough but active beta version.

In order to carry out all these activities smoothly the client should supply the storyboards or translations of texts and pictures (without copyright restrictions) on time. The definitive design takes the form of a job instruction, including drawings and/or active draft versions. All activities and their corresponding quality standards are recorded per participant in this job instruction. After the client has approved the job instruction, all participants (including the client), the design agency and third parties have to comply with it. We invite tenders from third party companies on the basis of this job instruction and the drawings.

These companies base their tenders on the job instruction and drawings. This makes it very easy to compare them, considering that several suppliers are asked to state their prices. Clients keep control of their own budgets because orders to third party companies are formally granted by the client (unless it involves a turnkey order, see explanation below). Marcelwoutersontwerpers does, however, give advice to clients on such questions.

The definitive design stage lasts approximately four months for an average project.

Turnkey Orders

A client may want to opt for a turnkey contract for the execution of its order. They then pass the entire responsibility for the execution of the order, both profits and risks, on to the agency. This gives the client the certainty that the entire exhibition will be realised within fixed budget limits. Their voice concerning content remains decisive, however.

The agency will claim higher expenses within the total budget for this construction.

Production Coordination

During this last stage we will pay attention to see that all matters agreed upon with the client are put into practise. Should a situation arise whereby a job needs alteration during the course of execution, we will try and find solutions, if necessary in the form of additional drawings. We strive to stay within the boundaries of the appointed budget during this stage.

The production coordination stage lasts from the beginning of the execution process until the grand opening of the exhibition.

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