The institution of a museum is larger than life. To create something as big as this there is a need of extensive planning and detailed processes. Museum planning is essentially the process of creating documents to detail out the vision of the new museum, design of the visitor’s experience and an organizational structure and planning for a new institution, or a museum that is undergoing a major expansion or change in focus.
The various constituent features of a museum plan may comprise of a few or all of these:
- An analysis of institutional resources, assets and collections
- An analysis of local attractions and museums
- An updated and apt vision & mission
- Updated collections objectives
- Updated education objectives
- Updated experience objectives
- A target group of potential visitor, other audience & user groups
- Interpretive Plan
- Storylines for exhibitions
- Visitor Flow Diagrams
- Thematic treatments
- Preliminary exhibition plan
- Style Boards
- Exhibition Representations
- Space Requirements Scrutiny
- Choosing a site
- Architectural Models
- Pilot Staffing Plan
- Pilot Project Schedules & Timelines
- Pilot Project Budget
Within the museum, the museum employees & volunteers, the constituting board of directors, community affiliates, and reps of city & state planning organizations collaborate with a museum planner, economists, exhibition designers, architects, and other specialized consultants to form a museum planning team. The focus and intent of the Museum Plan is to create a lucid & crisp layout to create a new institution and a sustainable, long term vision for the museum.
Another aspect of museum planning is the design and laying out of museum galleries, halls, spaces, or entire new wings & buildings. This design is done sensitively in a well-designed museum with the intent to showcase the collections in best possible light and to make the patron or visitor or the enthusiast comfortable. Most of the galleries in the museums house pieces of a great historical or cultural legacy, hence aspects like circulation, density, lighting, backgrounds, arrangement, and labels need to be carefully looked into.
Circulation of a space refers to the plan and direction of movement for the patrons. Good circulation can be implemented by effectively numbering the objects and laying the displays out in an organized manner. The order of the showcased objects and attention to every exhibit is prime. A badly planned circulation may cause the visitors to miss out on some of the galleries altogether or get confused by the haphazard order in which they view them. Care should be taken to make the circulation natural and not forced to induce a relaxed comfort in the patrons.
Density, clarity, and emphasis, aspects that need to be look into deeply so that the exhibits all get equal attention and apparent value. Care should be taken to allow the exhibits enough breathing space to look relaxed yet rich visually. Lighting is probably one of the most important features that must be taken into account. The ideal lighting is natural lighting, the intensity of which should definitely be filtered and controlled, ideally with a consistency. Exposure to the Northern or Southern lighting is considered ideal.
The background of the exhibit is extremely important. Whether it is some kind of a prop, a panel or simply a painted wall, it must compliment the exhibit without detracting interest or value from the exhibit itself. The positioning, arrangement, and display of any object is of great importance too. The height of the display, the positioning should be done in consideration with the ergonomics of the visitors. The grouping and relative positioning of the exhibits is definitely instrumental in the interpretation of the exhibit by the patrons and observers or the visitors.
For the experience to be knowledgeable and enriching, museum labels and descriptive accessories are absolutely essential. These should provide enough information to give a fair understanding to the patrons but should not be too much so as to bore them. A fairly good example would be to create a collection guide to introduce the whole museum experience, large panels to introduce a gallery and a small panel with each object or group of objects right next to them.