Building a Model for Exhibition & Experience Planning, November 2019 – October 2020

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington D.C.

What we did: Planning

ArtRise Projects partnered with the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s new Director Melanie Adams to reinvigorate the institution’s exhibition and experience planning processes. The Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) uses a local lens to surface stories behind the history, culture, and social issues affecting DC metro area communities that resonate on a broader scale and has long been known for its community-based program design processes. Articulating and redefining the exhibition design process was an essential first step in Adams’ leadership transition and the implementation of a new strategic plan.

To launch the collaboration, ArtRise facilitated a staff retreat to define the museum’s target audiences and map current curatorial and interpretative processes. Several months later, following Covid-19 travel restrictions, the group reconvened for an online thought leader dialogue regarding community-based exhibition design strategies. The program featured presenters Swarupa Anila, former Director of Interpretive Engagement at the Detroit Institute of Arts, who offered a case study of the recent exhibition Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement about the Detroit rebellion of 1967; and René de Guzman, Senior Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum of California, who spoke about All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50. ArtRise led a final strategy session in October 2020 with select ACM staff focused on best practices for community-centered exhibition and experience development including tools and templates related to creative process management, roles clarification, collaborative decision-making, and community engagement.

Image Credits

Top: Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
Bottom: Staff planning session at ACM, November 8, 2019