We live in a time when there is an overwhelming abundance of home make-over TV shows, articles and online blogs about redecorating, redesigning and reconsidering the objects with which we live.
After watching a TV designer transform a perfectly good bedroom into a jungle paradise by stapling, yes stapling, green plastic leaves and flowers directly to the drywall, I thought that some tips on how museum exhibition designers install art exhibits may prove helpful. As a longtime museum director, I have seen many exhibitions installed.
Museum exhibition designers make all kinds of objects look their best in any environment. When it comes to displaying objects, museum pros rely on the basics. Three things are important: the front, the collections and the guests.
Shown are a few works of art displayed on the “confrontation wall” of a museum.
Confront the front
Your home's front door is like a museum gallery's confrontation wall. When you enter any room in your home, there is one wall that is right in front of you or one that you focus on the most.
This wall is the starting point for any design concept called the confrontation wall. It's the first one you confront.
This wall shouts out for something important, big, colorful, bright, important or sexy. The confrontation wall always makes a statement.
Often, in a museum, this wall hosts the most important work of art in the exhibition. Don't ignore it in your home. Put the best object right there.
Architect Mies van der Rohe was onto something when he said, "Less is More." Clutter and collections are opposites.
Displaying similar items near each other is pleasing to the eye. Arrange collections together by size, color, material or texture. This method shows the scope of the collection and highlights the similarities and differences.
You want visitors to your home to look at a collection and concentrate on it. They make great conversation starters. Clutter is unrelated and messy. Reject the clutter impulse.
Fragile yet family-friendly
In most museums, changing exhibitions occur about every three months or every season. You don't want to look at your snowman collection in July and neither do the experts.
In museums and in your home, objects on display have to withstand pedestrian traffic and issues like temperature and humidity changes, sun exposure, etc.
Make sure your favorite works of art and antiques are far from areas of high heat, away from air conditioning vents or radiators, and out of heavy traffic areas from pets and children.
One last tip, if someone holding a staple gun is coming toward your bedroom in hopes of embarking on a re-design, point them in the direction of the nearest museum. Maybe they'll learn something.
Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.