Best Museum Exhibitions of 2012

Mark Walhimer Exhibition Design, Exhibition Reviews 3 Comments

In 2012 I visited a total of sixty-three museums, often visiting a city for work, then taking a day to visit the local museums.  My favorite exhibitions were in New York City, Mexico City, Minneapolis, Hong Kong and Washington, D.C..  When I am visiting a museum exhibition, I am looking for layers of information, starting from an exhibition statement.   I am a strong believer in Pre-Visit, Visit and Post-Visit, does the exhibition support an online pre-visit orientation ?, does the exhibition have an exhibition statement with supporting layers? Is there information for resources post-visit?  Does the entire exhibition hold together with one voice? Does it present the information in a constant manner?  Is the exhibition attractive, inclusive and welcoming?

The best exhibitions are the result of a curatorial vision. Kudos to the curators, exhibition developers and exhibition designers and fabricators of these exhibitions. Below are my selections for the “Best Exhibitions of 2012”

Best Exhibition of the 2012


Science Center: Universum, “Sexualidad” (Click on photo above for my exhibition photos)
I believe exhibitions have the ability to change people’s lives and Sexualidad is structured to communicate and encourage  conversation, with the goal of giving visitors the tools to make personal decisions.   Most of all, I was impressed by the courage of Universum to present such a difficult topic as sexuality in as “flat” and helpful a manner.     The exhibition includes difficult topics such as incest, abuse by clergy, sexual attraction, contraception and reproduction.  The information was factual, flat and helpful.  I visited the exhibition twice and each time I was impressed by teenagers and couples paying attention and learning. The exhibition includes varying levels of privacy, from the personal viewers for topics such as incest to small theater areas for biology topics.  The exhibition had a clean and minimal aesthetic, incorporating glass, white frosted acrylic and many back light panels with interaction when appropriate.  Kudos to Universum!

History Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


(Click on photo for link to “Museum Exhibitions Change Lives”)

Towards the end of my tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I stood at the back of the exhibition theater and cried, I know of no better response to an exhibition.  I was touched on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.  See my blog post, “Exhibition Change Lives”

Children’s Museum – Minnesota Children’s Museum

Minnesota Children's Museum

(Click on photo above for my exhibition photos)

I have not been to the Children’s Museum of Minnesota since it opened in 1995 and wasn’t sure what to expect.  After touring the galleries, I asked to speak with the Director of Exhibition, only to congratulate them on the continued excellence.  The galleries are fun, lively, but never childlike.  Children’s museums have an opportunity to address children as developing people, with interests and desires of their own.  When given the opportunity they can make their own decisions and explorations with the guidance of adults.  The Children’s Museum of Minnesota is such a place, being welcoming, fun, exciting while never talking down to children. Instead it gives children an opportunity to explore and reach.  The building architecture is incorporated into the experience, offering graphics for both adults and children.  My only criticism is the lack of a museum collection as an introduction to a museum experience.

Art Museum – Museo Rufino Tamayo

(Click on photo above for my exhibition photos)

The exhibitions coincided with the building renovation and the museum re-opening.  I loved the entry Art piece of the exhibition “Primer Acto” by Douglas Gordon “Off Screen” 1998, placing the visitor at center stage.  “Primer Acto” played with the boundaries between artist, museum and visitor.   “Tomorrow was already here” is an artist’s look at previous visions of the future. The museum reopening included  excellent programming to accompany each exhibition.  There are programming areas in each exhibition areas which include selections of books and videos to support the exhibitions.

Corporate Installation – Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis

Le Merridien
(Click on photo above for my exhibition photos)
You will notice that two of the exhibitions are from Mexico City and two from Minnesota, I do not find this a coincidence.  The best exhibitions are the result of a community and the art installations at the Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis Hotel are brilliant.  When I first checked into the hotel, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place, thinking I must be in the lobby of the restaurant and seeing the restaurant’s art collection.  I asked and was told “yes, the art is part of the hotel” and was given an art guide.  When I  arrived at my room, I found the same level of Art installed in my room.  Hotel guests can find more information about the art in their room (including prices) and a guide to the Art in the public areas.

Notable Exhibitions of 2012 (Links to each):
Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso – Ernesto Neto
OMR – Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Centro Cultual Espana– I loved the basement exhibition, seeing the layers of history of the development of DF
Science Museum of Minnesota

I do not believe in crowd sourcing of exhibitions and don’t see how any of the exhibition above could have been created through the methods of crowd sourcing.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of the museums above are clients.

Comments 3

  1. Hi Mark, I’m a mexican museographer and I truly find your website and everything in it very concise and very helpful. Thanks for sharing it!


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