Mobile Museum exhibit planning

Resources for Mobile Museum exhibit development

The 2014 and 2015 versions of the Mobile Museum each included three physical exhibits, with a mix of objects (specimens and artifacts) and text panels, and we expect to use a similar layout in 2016--although this could depend on the exhibits selected.

About physical exhibits

A physical exhibit might include mounted objects inside or outside cases, text and graphic panels, small dioramas, interactive elements, video, audio, etc.

We encourage anyone developing a proposal to think creatively about what kinds of elements can best help tell your story.  We will help figure out the details--you do not need to know exactly how to create replicas, mount artifacts in cases, or determine the details of case and panel sizes. The combination of panels, cases, and other elements does not have to be the same as last year's--we include the photos below to show what some of the possibilities are.

You should think very carefully about whether to include any objects that are physically delicate, especially if individual objects are critical to the story you want to tell. In particular, if vibrations or shaking, or changes in temperature or humidity, are problematic for your objects, you may want to talk to us about the specifics of the Mobile Museum environment before submitting your proposal.  However, we have successfully traveled with a wide range of objects and artifacts, and can probably find a secure way to mount and protect what you want to display.

About digital exhibits

We currently use a software package called Intuiface for our digital exhibits.  Intuiface makes the development of touchscreen-based content easy, and it can support powerful and creative interactions.  If you're thinking of developing a digital exhibit proposal, we encourage you to look at some of Intuiface's demos and samples to see what kinds of things the software is capable of.  

About audio and video

These can be great storytelling tools, and several groups have included them in physical and digital exhibits, either on our big touchscreens or on smaller screens within the main exhibit areas.  However, the Mobile Museum can be noisy at times. You should not depend on audio alone, or on the sound in your video, to tell your story on its own--please be prepared to include captions or subtitles where necessary.

Exhibit layout

The Mobile Museum typically has three physical exhibits, although the layout changes slightly from year to year.

This is an approximation of the layout in 2015:

Diagram of museum layout in 2015




And this is an approximate sketch of the layout in 2014:

Mobile Museum approximate floorplan


Here's how the 2014 exhibits looked:

Exhibit Area A: Iowa's Ice Age Giants


Ice Age Giants exhibit photo
A waist-high case in the right-hand slideout holds fossils, with a mix of text, graphics, photos, and a mounted replica skull on panels mounted on the wall. At the far left, the small triangular case has more text and another mounted replica.

Ice Age center case
The center case has fossils (covered with Plexiglas) in a waist-high case, with a center panel of text and images separating it from the archaeological artifacts on the other side of the same case.

Exhibit Area B: Glenwood/Iowa's Ancient Agriculturalists

Glenwood exhibit main area
The large case in the left-hand slideout housed artifacts, while the panels above had a combination of maps, text, graphics, and an integrated video screen controlled by four pushbuttons.  

Earth lodge diorama
A small diorama showed the interior of an earthlodge.

Glenwood exhibit small case
The triangular corner case held more artifacts with text panels and additional mounted objects above.

Archaeology timeline case
The center case had an archaeological timeline of Iowa, with artifacts carefully chosen and arranged to illustrate the text.  This was a very popular exhibit.

Exhibit Area C: Cornerstones (Iowa & UI history)

Cornerstones exhibit first wall
Text panels lined two walls.  A small corner case held antique carpentry tools. 

Iowa constitution replica
A replica of the Iowa constitution could be examined and paged through by visitors.

Old Capitol model
A scale model of the Old Capitol occupied the center case.

Interactive Touchscreens




Old Capitol Museum

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