by Patrick McShea
Designers of museum exhibits, when they are successful, create interesting displays that convey important information and sustain multiple levels of interpretation. Occasionally, effective designs include the placement of some elements in locations certain to garner the attention of young museum visitors.
Within Alcoa Foundation Hall of American Indians, a highlight of the exhibition’s East quadrant is a detailed, miniature reproduction of Cornplanter’s Grant, a tract of Iroquois-owned land along the Allegheny River in northwestern Pennsylvania. The model landscape, which stretches from river edge to ridge crest, depicts activity on the tract in four distinct seasons of 1800.
The seasonal contrasts serve as an unwritten invitation to circle the historic domain. During such movements, visitors whose eye level approaches the ridge crest encounter depictions of fingernail-sized wildlife beneath the blaze of autumn foliage.
Patrick McShea works in the Education and Visitor Experience department of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.