Museum@Home: Exhibit

Two teens looking at a map of 18th century Boston.

Activity 1: Collection

Activity 2

Organize your exhibit

Time needed: 20-45 minutes
Materials needed: Objects to display, something to write with, paper or post-it notes

LEARN: What is a museum exhibit?

In the first activity, you and your family shared your own collections with one another. How do museums share their collections with their visitors?

Lots of museums like to display their collection in public spaces to tell stories and share information. These displays are called exhibitions or exhibits. Exhibits feature objects, paintings, pictures, or other parts of a museum collection along with labels telling the viewer about what they are looking at and how it connects to the other objects in the exhibit. The label usually has the name of the object, when it was made (if this is known), and a brief description. These are pictures of a display case of objects used and made by sailors in the 1800s and the label describing each one. The display is part of a larger exhibit on view at the Old State House.

Sometimes there is a person in charge of designing the exhibits for a museum. At Revolutionary Spaces our exhibits are designed by a whole team of people working together. Our newest exhibit, Reflecting Attucks, took over 15 people working together to complete. Some people wrote the exhibit text, some people organized the objects and images that are on display, and other people designed and made all the labels and signs describing the exhibit materials.

The exhibits at the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House share stories about the history of Boston and America and help visitors connect those stories to their own lives.

YOUR TURN: Organize an exhibit using your collection. 

Can you create a museum exhibit at home using your collection or objects you find in your house?  Here are the steps:

Step 1: Decide what you want people to learn from your exhibit

  • The best exhibits use objects to tell a story or share information.

Step 2: Pick out your objects

  • It’s a good idea to keep your exhibit small; choose 5-10 objects that best tell your story.

Step 3: Arrange your objects

  • Spread them out on a nice flat surface where they can be easily viewed.
  • Be thoughtful about how you arrange the objects in order to help the viewer follow the story of your exhibit.

Step 4: Write your labels

  • You will want one label that introduces the story of your exhibit and labels that share information about the individual objects on display.
  • You can type these on a computer and print them out, or hand write them. Post-it notes make great at home museum exhibit labels because they’re already sticky!
  • Arrange your labels next to your objects, or put a number near the object and have all of the information on one sheet of paper.

Step 5: Name your exhibit

  • Choose a name that gets the viewer excited about what they’re going to see and learn. 

Up next: how can you talk with people about the story your exhibit tells ?

Activity 3: Gallery Talk