An exhibition is a way to share and discuss research findings with a wider audience. The exhibition is a low-threshold format that allows visitors to engage with research findings on their own. An exhibition can be designed in very different ways. This depends, among other things, on the target group and the purpose of the exhibition. However, it is a format that gets research out of scientific formats and makes research results accessible to the public.
The aim of an exhibition is to present the research results and the research approach to the public.
The planning and implementation of the exhibition can be done with all people actively involved in the research e.g. researchers, co-researchers, cooperation partners. Sometimes it can be useful to appoint a core team for the organisation of the exhibition. Often, external support from e.g. graphic artists or designers is needed to create exhibits.
An exhibition can be implemented in different formats. Digital or not, with exhibits or posters, interactive or with media stations. Depending on the research project, the materials needed for an exhibition will vary. It is advisable to consider in advance exactly what can be implemented in the project in terms of resources.
1. Discuss the theme and purpose of the exhibition
The first thing you should think about is what the theme and purpose of your exhibition is. What do you want to show in the exhibition, e.g. do you want to give an insight into the research process or present research results? Do you want to focus only on a section of a project or give an overview of the entire project?
2. Decide on the target group of the exhibition
As a next step it is necessary to decide who will be the target group of your exhibition e.g., other researchers, policy stakeholders, neighbors or a specific community. Think about who you want to reach and why. The target group influences how you present the research results from the project, among other things: the language, the form of presentation, the accompanying programme, etc.
3. Budget and resources and plan
The second step is to get an overview of the available budget and resources in order to define the scope of the exhibition. An exhibition does not have to be extensive and expensive to get your content across to an audience. Also, set a schedule. By when must the location of the exhibition be decided, the exhibits finished and printed, for example.
4. Decide the format of the exhibition and the time frame
The next thing to decide is what format you want to use for the exhibition. For example: Do you prefer digital or real-life? In a public space or a library? Consider the advantages and disadvantages of different formats for your target group. Choosing the format is closely connected to step 5 (what to display at the exhibition) since the modalities of your space will influence how you can set up the exhibition.
5. Decide what to display in the exhibition
The next step is to think about what you want to exhibit in the exhibition. How can your research results best be presented? For example: photos, posters, videos, interactive stations, pictures, etc. In order to keep an overview, it is useful to make a list of the different exhibits and those responsible for the different materials as well as by when the individual tasks must be completed.
6. Events at the exhibition
You can consider whether the exhibition will be accompanied by a programme. Sometimes it can be useful to offer guided tours through the exhibition or to organize an interactive quiz. Panel discussions or other events can also make an exhibition more interesting.
In order to reach your target group, you should think about how to promote the exhibition. Think of posters, flyers, social media or other means of announcing your exhibition and the programme.
8. Production of material
Think early enough about how long you need to produce the exhibits so that they are ready in time. The schedules for video production or layout of posters, if they are designed by people external to the project, need to be agreed well in advance.
Think about if you want to make the exhibition accessible to others after it is finished. Maybe put materials online or preserve it for other events where you could exhibit items.
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