While on-staff at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History,
helping diverse content teams to create social and cultural history exhibitions, I adapted
some content-development and design models to facilitate interactions among team participants who represented different divisions of the museum, varied academic backgrounds, and often, divergent cultural traditions. These visualization tools enabled diverse teams to move concepts from abstract notions towards in-depth historical narratives. And along the path from idea to installation, concrete and narrative-specific historical resources were identified and/or created: photographic image archives; inventories of available objects; documentation and analyses of possible installation locations; outlines of possible environmental and/or experiential components; inventories of electronic, film media, and technological components; and associated scopes of work to incorporate additional casts of appropriate contractors/team members.
For the past nine years, I have applied these same content models in the creation of small-scale museum exhibitions, for a museum that currently exists in name only. The National Institutes of Health is home to the Stetten Museum of Medical Research, and it has been my great privilege to help to build collections of images, instruments and objects so that when a national museum of medical research eventually emerges-it will already have some of the voices that will be needed to bring significant NIH contributions to life (today or in twenty years or even fifty years hence). The small exhibitions that get shoe-horned into existing built environments on the NIH campus, use minimal funds-but are invaluable in demonstrating why the voices of researchers and investigators must be captured and preserved, why the instruments that helped to answer research questions for Nobel or Lasker award winning scientists (as well as less-well-celebrated contributors) must be secured for future generations. And, perhaps most importantly, why temporal kinds of historical materials like lab notebooks, sketches, photographs of scientists, workshops and symposia that enable investigators to collaborate, as well as drawings and photographs of working science environments-will all enable future audiences to better understand how the major contributions of this moment came to be.
2011 National Institutes of Health Merit Award
“For creative leadership and initiative in creating a prosthetic heart valve exhibit.”
American Association of Museums