Most museums have a gallery space devoted to temporary exhibitions that regularly rotate. If your museum doesn’t, you are missing out on many benefits!
A plan of changing exhibitions can bring in repeat visitors, attract a new audience, inspire new programs and events, increase your presence in the media, provide an opportunity to display more of your permanent collection, and allow you to bring traveling shows from outside your community.
If you are considering adding such a space to your facility, the following reasons may help convince your stakeholders and funding sources to take that leap.
The most obvious and popular reason to dedicate part of your building to changing exhibitions is to provide something new and different for your loyal visitors and members to come and see. Your permanent exhibitions might be fantastic, but how often do people want to come back if there’s nothing new? Temporary exhibits provide a built-in reason for visitors to come back. They will probably tour their “old favorites” in your permanent galleries during their visit too.
Not everything appeals to everyone. To draw in new audiences, you can create a series of temporary exhibitions that speak to different groups within your community. Try something geared toward families, followed by something hip and modern for young professionals, then a typical female topic, a typical male topic, and so on. Appeal to different ethnic groups, country vs. city dwellers, Civil War enthusiasts, Baby Boomers, collectors. No matter what your museum’s focus might be, there are always several angles to interpret your mission to attract a different crowd.
New Programs and Events
Exhibit topics can be the inspiration for new programs and events that you might not otherwise consider. Why not try a lecture series, a themed Saturday event, or a drop-in craft based on the exhibit? Education programs for kids or themed field trips for schools can also come from exhibitions.
Most media outlets are not interested in profiling your museum’s permanent exhibitions. They want to know what’s new and different so they can write about you. A schedule of regularly changing temporary exhibitions provides plenty of material for media outlets. They also give you something to Tweet or Facebook about!
More Space for Artifacts
In most museums, only 10-15% of the permanent collection is on exhibit. That means the rest of the artifacts are safely stored, waiting for their moment in the spotlight. A temporary exhibition space will give you a chance to bring out some of those artifacts for the public to enjoy that just don’t fit into your permanent exhibitions.
Your collection might be fabulous, but there are some topics that you just can’t cover on your own. Booking a traveling exhibition fills that void. There are a variety of options available for every space and budget. There is a perception, sometimes, that a traveling exhibit is “better” or “more interesting” than what you produce in-house. Even if that’s not the case, you can capitalize on that perception by booking something from outside your community once a year or even every other year.