Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Setting exhibition aims

Through a structured thinking exercise (rooted in philosophical inquiry) we have generated tentative aims for A Journey with 'The Waste Land'

We started by jotting down individual ideas about the form, content, feel and reach of the exhibition. 

Karen Eslea, Head of Learning and Visitor Experience at Turner Contemporary, then led an exercise which opened these up for debate. Moving around the room in terms of whether we agreed or disagreed with statements we then discussed our different positions. In areas of major disagreement, statements were reformulated until we'd managed to find a form of words which enabled consensus ('consent after dialogue').

To give an example, with regards the statement, 'the exhibition has to be interesting to TS Eliot experts' initially views were mixed (- note the way in which people are distributed across the room, some agreeing, some disagreeing). 

However, after debate Karen reformulated the statement as 'the exhibition should appeal to a diverse audience including TS Eliot experts', which people felt more able to endorse (- note the way in which people are now clustered together on one side, the 'agree' side, of the room). 

Devising aims in this way enabled thinking to be visualised, and language to be nuanced in a way which took account of everyone's positions (whilst avoiding everyone having to speak about everything or those with the loudest voices having a disproportionate influence). 

Photo credit: Jason Pay

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