Creating engaging displays

There is a growing consensus towards the creation of 'democratic museums' that challenge and involve audiences intellectually and emotionally.

This new approach to display can take many forms, but working with members of the public and artists is one key way to create stimulating museum spaces and engage audiences.

However, while introducing new voices into the museum presents an opportunity to challenge perceived wisdoms, it also raises issues around the authority of the museum in the 21st century.


Democratic displays

The social side of web 2.0 is changing visitors' expectations of museums, but this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge

Co-creating displays with the public

Museums can create engaging displays by drawing on the views, experiences and creativity of the general public. But co-creation projects are a tricky thing to get right

Co-creating displays with artists

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery made exhibition history with its Banksy 'takeover' exhibition. But how are other museums working with artists to create stimulating displays?

Challenging preconceived ideas

Museums can offer a forum for debate and discussion, but taking this approach raises issues about authority and authorship

Online museums

More museums are using the internet to engage visitors, leading to greater participation and opportunities for object identification and interpretation

Case study: community platforms

Hackney Museum's Plaform space enables members of the community to put on their own exhibitions

Case study: giving up control

Performing arts companies such as Nuffield Theatre are pushing the boundaries of co-creation

Case study: dealing with criticism

Manchester Museum's Lindow Man exhibition introduced different voices into the museum - an approach that provoked criticism

Case study: crowdsourcing exhibitions

An online experiment to create the most democratic exhibition possible put responsibility for curation in the hands of the public

Democratic displays: further resources

Further resources for anyone interested in co-creating displays with individuals, artists and visitors.

Have your say on co-creation

Share your views on creating exhibitions with members of the public and artists.

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Community projects

Exploring the practicalities of working with groups from diverse communities

Museums Association Conference and Exhibition

The Museums Association's 2010 Conference in Manchester will explore both museums' and the public's relationship with collections, as well as working in partnership and redisplaying collections.