SDMC and SDEEG Evaluate New Tuna Exhibition at San Diego History Center on 6/27/12
A new collaboration between the San Diego Museum Council, Balboa Park Learning Institute and San Diego Exhibitors and Evaluators' Group kicked off with an evaluation of the new exhibition TUNA! Celebrating San Diego's Famous Fishing Industry on Wednesday, June 27 at the San Diego History Center. Blog post submitted by Megg Sohn.
San Diego Exhibtors & Evaluators’ (SDEEG) purpose is to be a resource to professionals in San Diego County in the field of museum education, marketing, public programs and exhibits by providing a regular forum for discussion and learning about effective exhibit design. Co-hosted with the San Diego Museum Council, we evaluated and discussed TUNA! Celebrating San Diego’s Famous Fishing Industry, which showcases the rise and decline of tuna fishing — once one of San Diego’s largest industries.
During the early to mid-20th century, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and Hispanic families formed enclaves around San Diego Bay earning a living from this vital food source and building many of the waterfront communities such as Point Loma, Little Italy and Barrio Logan. Visitors experience the world through the eyes of these fishing families and includes hands-on pole-fishing demonstration stations, packing and canning activities, films, images and oral histories. Hear the stories and learn what it was like to work in this industry that, for a time, made San Diego synonymous with the world’s most popular food fish.
Theresa Kosen, Executive Director of San Diego Museum Council, Paige Simpson, Director of the Balboa Park Learning Institute (BPLI) and Megg Sohn, Steering Committee of SDEEG announced that there is a new collaboration between these three groups to take SDEEG forward. SDMC and BPLI will be working together to plan future events for SDEEG. Stay tuned for more details this year.
Want to stay in touch about museum exhibit design and evaluation? Join our LinkedIn group for SDEEG for future events and resources by searching for "San Diego Evaluators and Exhibits Group" on LinkedIn or search for “SDEEG” in Facebook groups.
Seen here is a unique photo opportunity to wave from the dock to the fishermen going out to sea.
Everyone was amazed that Matthew Schiff, Marketing Manager and Curator of the San Diego History Center, had to take over the exhibit last minute because of staff issues. He only had ten weeks to put the entire project together. In light of that, everyone sympathized and praised Matthew for a job truly well done. The main goal of the exhibit was to entice a younger demographic with the first interactive exhibit the museum has ever had. A big challenge of this exhibit was working with a variety of interested parties including Starkist, Greenpeace, NOAA, SIO, Fishwatch and more. That made the writing especially difficult. Another challenge was also having a TUNA! exhibit at the Airport which has a lengthy approval process.
Above shows the nice coordinating display in the museum’s store.
This exhibit was a different process for the museum because many tuna fisherman are still alive and the museum had many photos but not a lot of artifacts. The tuna fishing community contributed many artifacts but sorting through them for a story was challenging. The fishermen did seem to really enjoy the exhibit which was rewarding.
Above is one of the interactives.
You had to pull on the fishing pole to feel just how difficult a fisherman’s job was.
One of the many beautiful photographs from the museum’s collection.
Our review of the exhibit:
1. People really liked the interactives, photos and the information on the tuna industry.
2. They thought the flow, however, was confusing because there were parts of the exhibit in different areas in the atrium. This layout confused TUNA! elements with other exhibits. We recommended pulling all elements together in one area leading into the main TUNA! gallery.
The timeline was to the side in the entrance atrium.
This created a flow problem.
The atrium was large with two sculptures leading to the two galleries for TUNA!
The opening graphic was large and easy to find but this small display to the left was confusing because it led into a different gallery. We suggested it be brought out to the middle of the atrium.
The small display had a replica of tuna casserole, showing the popular uses of tuna.
3. The panels were difficult to read because the text was centered up instead of left justified. The labels used very small type and a sans serif font. Labels shouldn’t be smaller than 16 point type and a serif font, like Times, is much easier to read, especially on older visitor’s eyes. The panels were all the same size and it would be nice to mix up the sizes of the panels for visual interest.
Main exhibit panels.
We recommended that centered up text is the hardest to read.
Left justified is always better for panels.
The label text was far too small.
4. The big idea or theme was not apparent. An advanced organizer, as in a large title and pull out quotes, can be used to attract attention from afar and for the people who only take 3 seconds to read a panel. Photos could be blown up large to separate the subthemes, as well as different colored walls for different sections. Lighting that highlights areas, not just flood the gallery with light, can make sections pop out more as well.
The walls from afar needed larger titles to show the hierarchy of information. Everything being small meant we had to get in closer to know what it was about.
5. There was too much text in general, especially in the second gallery. It was apparent to some that information about the demise of the tuna industry was watered down.
This wall of text, being edge to edge, was far too overpowering.
6. The canning game was really fun and informative. The photo of the women canning should be moved to the wall behind the game to help visitors understand it quicker. A photo of how to organize the materials after you play the game would be helpful. Also, for those of us who are competitive, it would be nice to know how many cans a professional canner can do in one minute. Instructions were written and an illustration would be easier to understand.
This canning game was very popular.