Page 20 - College Planning & Management, November 2017
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start our museum. As might be imagined, however, during those intervening 13 years the spaces that had been meant for the museum had been repurposed (mostly as study rooms), and no one had the appetite for their attempted repossession.
The Charge and Preparation
A museum committee was formed with diverse faculty and departmental represen- tation from the departments of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Animal Science. The committee was asked (rather broadly) to “use the available funds to create a museum in the science building.” Following many hours of discussions,
the committee agreed that the museum should be 1) attractive to visitors of all age groups to the college and science build-
ing (including often-visiting elementary school groups); 2) educational in nature (and ideally of practical use to faculty members teaching some science courses); 3) reflective of the character of the college; 4) adaptable; and 5) mindful of the wishes of the extended Large family. Beyond that, not one of the committee members had any experience with museums... or any notion as to how to get started.
Fortunately, the Tellus Science Museum (a Smithsonian affiliate) is near the col- lege, and some of us knew the executive director. We asked the director to visit with the committee and he gladly (thankfully!) accepted. He offered advice on everything
from possible styles of display cases, what makes for an interesting display and how to collect items for display; to lighting issues and selecting appropriate fonts for labeling. He also surveyed the area we had tentatively singled out as the most appropriate place in the science building to house the museum, and gave us the thumbs up.
Locating that appropriate place wasn’t easy. With classroom space at a premium, and the previously designed “museum” spaces no longer available, the committee scoured the building for a suitable location. We were fortunate that there was a long, wide hallway available that was generally underutilized that was also not a critical access point. The hallway terminated at an exterior door; we reasoned that a mu- seum space could be created if we simply rendered that door inoperable. While that made sense to us, it turned out we needed (per code) to maintain that door as an emergency exit to serve an adjoining au- ditorium. We were ultimately able to have
the exterior handles removed, an “Emer- gency Exit Only” sign put in place and the windows covered to keep sunlight out of the area. On the whole, however, it seemed a convenient and logical spot for the mu- seum with plenty of space (7 feet wide by 60 feet long by 10 feet high) for displays.
Our committee of scientists then launched two concurrent initiatives. First, design the museum so as to be compat- ible with the hallway. Second, decide what should be displayed in the museum (including what was already available).
Museum Design
The chosen hallway had some existing support columns on one side that broke up the space into natural “display” areas. However, we weren’t excited about simply sliding in prefabricated display cases since we wanted to avoid the museum looking like an amateurish collection of “stuff.” After hours of surfing the Internet for potential design ideas, we came across an image of a museum that looked attrac- tive, professional and compatible with the hallway space.
It was also important that we attempt to transform the look of this space from a hallway to that of a museum. To this end we included in the plans an arched entrance, decorative columns, attractive raised lettering for the museum name and a distinctive color palette not found elsewhere in the building.

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