If your venue has ever installed a cabinet large enough to fit a human being in, you will probably be familiar with the urge to "try it on for size". It's the museum and art gallery staff equivalent to a cat having to sit in a cardboard box. You're not sure why, but that cabinet calls to something in your genes, and you want to know what your exhibited artifacts feel like when they're on that side of the glass.
Since managers don't always appreciate this vital part of the installation process, and may even take umbrage at something they signed off thousands of pounds on being used to raise staff morale, the sixth sense of middle-management is key in knowing when it's safe to show off the new cabinet.
Smarter venue management know that this stage of a large cabinet can sometimes be a great opportunity for your social media and website.
Show what is happening behind the scenes, with a touch of comedy; Trap the Egyptology curator mummy style, put a stuffed toy in it, film it being "accidentally" locked with someone cleaning the glass inside. You can also use this to educate the public in a lighthearted way; photograph some of the behind the scenes staff with mocked up exhibit labels explaining what their roles are, or create a stop motion animation gif with things moving in and out of the cabinet to represent the set up process.
Public engagement opportunities are plentiful with a large empty cabinet. Promote the future exhibit by asking people about what might be exhibited in it once it's all installed, ask about thoughts and suggestions about the future content. Ask them what they would put in it if they were creating their dream exhibition. Introduce some senior staff members and explain their roles, and encourage the public to vote on who has to help the install team clean all the glass.
A large empty cabinet isn't just a chance for tomfoolery, it's also a raft of fun, educational and engaging ways to communicate with your public.
Webcomic and occasional blog about the heritage sector.
Follow The Attendant:
All text and images are produced by and copyright of the artist, holder of the domain name of attendantsview.com