Dirk Houtgraaf

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7. Key to success: setting the table Preliminary Design

Final Design

Production Contracting

Fabrication

Installation

Improvements Maintenance

Before entering the development of a temporary exhibition – or any new permanent exhibition – there are some choices to be made and announced to everyone involved. It is to be seen as ‘setting the table’. It establishes the way you are going to work.

Start-up

Have it clear how the process is organized It has to be clear to everyone how the process will be organized. Which steps are to be taken, in which order, with whom and how organized? There is an order of things to be done, which we will describe. It has to be clear who is doing what kind of job, how responsibilities are divided, and decisions taken. And to keep the flow going, who needs what kind of information and decisions for his job? And who need to be informed, for whatever reasons, if only for support and acceptance by the stakeholders. Is there a project management methodology adopted? Some museums might have done so. As this book has a fully worked-out system, we will assume this as the outline taken. But as said before, you are free to adjust as you please. Just make it clear on the outset, to everyone involved, what it is and/or how you have adapted the process described here. The reason we emphasize this start-up so much is the experience that often the rules of the game are developed, and worse, changed during the game. That is bad enough – and should be discouraged – but if you have not set your way of working clear right-on, this lack of clarity will lead to uncertainty, ambiguity and often downright confusion. It will definitely hamper the flow. The resulting Initiative report The startup phase will be concluded with a detailed report – we call it an initiative or start-up report - on the how, the whom, the timeline and the money involved. This report has to be agreed on by all decision-makers. This is the way you are going to do it. The result might be a ‘no-go’ too. Or some redoing might be needed. Be sure however, that you won’t start until the setting is clear, and you know how the ‘table’ will be organized.

Detail from A Day of Celebration, 1902, Fanny Brate, National Museum of Fine Arts, Stockholm

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