Helping a cohort of 52 business students to design and curate their exhibition of the 11 week Reflective Practitioner module provided an interesting opportunity for students to come up with imaginative ways of displaying their work.
Task The exhibition design, artefacts and curation represented a piece of course work, and two streams of students were asked to make a joint exhibition. The two groups worked independently until week 10, only being able to liaise in week 11 and on the day of the event. Students elected to take on specific roles and tasks, and had responsibility for devising and making displays. A very large number of artefacts needed to be displayed.
Venue The Drysdale Lecture Theatre, lobby area and boardroom. We had access one and a half hours ahead of the exhibition opening to the public.
Process From week 2 students were introduced to the idea of the exhibition, and over the course momentum built, including a vital integrative workshop in week 10 when as many exhibits were prepared as possible. Students also worked in groups on a plan of the space, producing some excellent space designs. They were mindful of providing a space that would enable up to 60 guests to circulate, plus a reception table, and space for visitors’ feedback.
How students came up with creative solutions
Living Exhibits Each student elected to wear a badge inviting guests to interact with them on a particular theme of the module.
Gazebo For a fantastic central focus, the basic framework of a small garden gazebo was used to display 52 three-dimensional story cubes, representing the special qualities of each student but also, symbolically brought together into a single organisation.
Bathroom suckers We sourced plastic sucker “towel” hooks to suspend lines of cord, from which visitors added their handwritten feedback on luggage labels.
Boxes Large Cardboard boxes were designed by students to display quotes, images and photos.
The opportunity to display their work afforded the learning from the module to be made visible to external guests, to the wider institution, and to prospective students and parents (it coincided with an open day.) Our students have great ability to understand and collaborate together on designing and enhancing learning spaces. Given the success of this exhibition perhaps we should ensure that any future learning spaces build in to their design ways to display work. Simple ideas can turn a space into a display area, including hooks placed at the top of walls for hanging work, more flexible spot lighting that can be used to illuminate displays and better designed mobile display boards.