Exhibit Tips

By Amiee Newell

Select a Theme: The theme can be grand or small, specific or general. A theme helps
with planning and with publicizing the exhibit. A theme can be as simple as “treasures of
the collection” or “Masonic badges and jewels.” Or it can be more directed, perhaps
relating to a specific person, lodge or event. Having a title for the exhibit also helps with

Devise a list of goals for your exhibit: Who is your audience? Is it solely Masonic? Or
will you want to attract community attention to the exhibit (and, thus, to the Lodge)?
How long will your exhibit be up? Keep in mind the “exhibit resource equation.” How
much time do you have to put it together? How much money do you have to mount the
exhibit? What is the condition of your objects? What is the environment in the building?
Thinking about these questions at the beginning can help you plan a more organized
exhibit and protect the objects in your care. If you want to put up an exhibit that stays
put for a year or two, use ceramics, glass and metals, which can handle longer light
exposure and changing temperatures. If you think you have the time to change the
exhibit every six months, add more fragile artifacts like textiles (including ribbons and
badges with ribbons) and works on paper (books, prints, paintings, etc.). As a
compromise you can plan to rotate fragile materials after six months and put in others.
But, think about this at the beginning as it is a lot easier to know ahead of time what size
object you’ll need to fill the holes! You can also make photographic reproductions of the
more fragile paper materials and leave them in indefinitely.

Carefully inspect each item that you will put on display. Make sure that each is
structurally sound (no tears or breaks) and can handle the wear and tear of an exhibit.
When in doubt, leave it out. There are funding sources to help you assess the condition of
your overall collection; check with colleagues or fellow MLMA members to help identify the
best course of action for your collection.

Labels: LESS IS MORE! Consider having at least one “text panel” – a larger label that
conveys the title and theme of the exhibit. The text on this label can be a bit longer (100
words or so) but should also have a larger font size. Object labels, which identify the
specific artifacts in the exhibit, should be short – no more than 50 words. All labels
should have a readable font size, generally at least 16 or 18 point; the larger the better.
Also be sure to choose a readable font like Times New Roman, and readable ink and paper
colors (generally, it’s easier to read dark type on a light paper).

Final Advice:
* Start Small
* Set deadlines for each part of the process: select a theme, make an object list,
finish labels, set an opening date
* LESS IS MORE when it comes to labels!