Museum Interpretation Initiative

Program Details


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Through the Museum Interpretation Initiative (MII), small museums are creating interpretive exhibits that attract the curiosity of their visitors. Such exhibits don’t just display objects, but use them to help visitors understand and explore ideas. Program participants attend all three workshops and complete an exhibit project at their own museum where their new skills in collections research, interpretive labeling, and educational best practice are put to the test.

WORKSHOP # 1 – Finding Our Stories: Researching Collections & Communities
Facilitator:  Megan van Frank, Utah Humanities Council

Participants will learn how to:
  • Conduct research to place objects in appropriate context.
  • Locate published and unpublished sources.
  • Evaluate sources for bias and authenticity.

WORKSHOP # 2 – Telling Our Stories: Museum Interpretation through Exhibits
Facilitator: Laurel Casjens, museum consultant

Participants will learn how to:

  • Plan and design an interpretive exhibit that conveys a big idea to visitors.
  • Exhibit objects attractively and safely.
  • Write labels that visitors will read.
  • Make professional looking low-tech labels.

WORKSHOP # 3 – Teaching Our Stories: Museum Education & Docent Best Practices
Facilitator:  Virginia Catherall, Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Participants will learn how to:

  • Develop inquiry-based, hands-on teaching strategies to engage visitors.
  • Create self-guides and interactive tours to enhance visitor experience.

Site Visits: Workshop leaders will visit each museum to give personalized constructive feedback on completed exhibit project.
Learning Circle Discussion: All workshop participants will join in a peer discussion at the Utah Museums Association annual conference to reflect on their experiences.

For inspiration, click here to check out exhibit projects completed by previous participants in the MII Program.